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Aubergines

Aubergines










































Aubergines are increasingly popular and used extensively in Mediterranean cookery. Although new varieties have become available which are more suitable for growing in this country, they rarely do well when grown outside. Aubergines are better considered as a greenhouse/growhouse crop in all but the very mildest regions and hottest summers. However, if you have a warm sunny and protected spot against the wall of the house, you could certainly try growing aubergines in pots.

Soil & Growing Position

If you're planting outdoors, you'll need in warm sunny spot, in fertile and free draining soil. Apply a dressing of Growmore a week or so prior to planting. In the greenhouse you can plant in growbags or in 9" pots with compost. You could also try growing aubergines in pots or growbags on a warm, sheltered patio during the summer.

Sowing from Seed

Sow in January in a heated greenhouse or February in an unheated greenhouse, coldframe or growhouse. Seedlings should be raised at a temperature around or above 18 degrees Celsius. Sow 2 seeds in a peat pot filled with compost, removing the weaker seedling.
Sow in March.

Growing on & Young Plants

Seedlings raised in the greenhouse but intended for outdoors will need gradually acclimatising to the cooler temperatures ('hardening off') before planting out in late May/early June. Warm the soil by covering with cloches 2 weeks before planting and space 2' apart. Once planted out, cover the seedlings with cloches or polythene growing tunnels. If growing in the greenhouse or in pots, transfer plants to 9" pots or growbags in April for in a heated greenhouse or early May in an unheated one or the end of May/June for outdoors.
Once the plants are 12" high, remove the growing point. Plants will need support so stake and tie in as they grow.
Aubergines need regular watering (but should not be waterlogged) and once the fruit has started to appear, feeding with a high potash liquid fertiliser, such as Tomorite.
Dry air encourages the pest red spider mite so mist regularly to avoid this. Misting also helps flower set.
Once five fruits have set, remove any side shoots and remaining flowers as the plants are unlikely to be able to support any more fruit. Certain small fruiting varieties will be able to produce more fruit.

Harvesting

Harvesting begins once the fruit has grown to around 6" long and while the skin surface is still shiny. Over-ripe fruit has a dull surface and tastes bitter.
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