Aubergines are bright purple fruits that are used in many Greek, Italian, Turkish and Middle Eastern dishes, they have been grown for more than 5,000 years and belong to the Solanaceae family which include tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers and chilli peppers. The purple Aubergine that we see today was evolved from a spiny plant from India which bore small white egg-shaped fruit, this is why the Aubergine is also known as the eggplant. Aubergine plants have large green leaves with purple veins and purple stems (see picture above).
Many gardeners think that they are difficult to grow but this is not the case, they do need warm temperatures ideally grow them on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse/polytunnel, they can be put outdoors in a warm, sunny sheltered position but they will take longer to ripen and be smaller. If you want Aubergines in late Summer sow your seeds now before the end of April (seeds can be sown earlier from January onwards indoors), as well the medium, oval purple varieties there are many others available from seed; large, small, round, long and thin, red, green, yellow, white or even striped.
Sowing and Growing
- Sow seeds about 6mm deep in trays of compost or individually in small pots and water well.
- Place in a warm position approx. 20-25C/68-77F (see the back of your seed packet) either on a light windowsill or in a heated propagator, they will germinate in about 14 days.
- Transplant the seedlings that have been grown in trays individually into small pots when they have their second set of leaves.
- After a few weeks when roots show at the bottom of the pots, plant the Aubergines into their final growing positions either in large pots, growbags or in the greenhouse border.
- Water little and often, when their purple flowers appear gently spray them with tepid water to encourage the fruit to set.
- Feed regularly once the fruits have set and support the plant with a cane, for large fruit varieties after 5 fruits have formed cut off the growingtip/side shoots and any flowers so that the plants energy goes into producing 5 delicious dark purple fruits for smaller fruit varieties more fruits can be left to grow – see growing instructions on the back of the seed packet.
There are many different ways to cook Aubergines one of the simplest is sliced on the BBQ, serve as a side dish with meat and fish and a Tzatziki dip (click here for the recipe for Tzatziki), sow your seeds now and impress your friends this Summer with home grown and freshly picked Aubergine on your BBQ.
Dont forget to enter the FREE Gardening With Children competition in the Family Zone for a chance to win a fantastic Kids Wooden Standing Raised Bed Growing Table simply identify the 5 Wildflowers shown in the pictures hurry the closing date is this Saturday 30th April 2016 click here for more details and to enter.
Enter today for a chance to win one of these: