Description of eggplant
To grow this exotic plant requires some experience, and the choice of varieties — of different shapes and colors, much more than in the supermarket!
Like tomatoes and peppers, they belong to the Solanaceae family. Unlike them, the homeland of the eggplant is not Central or South America, but Asia or India. In this country, shiny, dark purple, almost black fruits are known. In East Asia, there are white eggplant, cream and light green colors.
The leaves may not always be green, there are dark purple. From July to September, beautiful flowers appear on the bushes, mostly purple in color. They can be pollinated by gently shaking the plant.
The best way to grow eggplants is to plant them indoors eight to nine weeks before planting in the open ground after the last spring frosts.
Depending on the variety, eggplants can be sown from the end of February to the beginning of April on a windowsill or in a greenhouse. It is better if the eggplant seeds are in the second year of storage. The seed material of the first year of storage is late and takes a long time to germinate. The seeds of the plant can germinate for several years.
You can sow the seeds in a tray or place them directly in small pots, sprinkled with a small amount of earth. A plastic film is stretched over the container for reconciliation.
For germination, they need a bright place with a temperature of 25 to 30 C and a humid climate. It may take up to six weeks. Seedlings are put in a slightly cool place with a temperature of about 20 C. If this is too troublesome, you can always buy seedlings and prepare them immediately before planting.
Eggplants in the open ground, how to care for
It is necessary not only to grow seedlings, but also to properly care for it in the future. Competent care includes: timely watering, fertilization of the soil and the formation of bushes.
One of the most important conditions for effective cultivation is a fertile soil. After digging, mineral and organic fertilizers are introduced into the ground. The ground should be light. Heavy soil is not very good for eggplants.
Eggplants will grow well if they are planted in a sunny place. These plants require a lot of heat, so it is advisable to cover the rows with mulch.
Since eggplants are very sensitive to cold, they should be planted in the open ground in mid-May – early June, when night frosts should no longer be expected. Eggplants grow well when the daytime temperature is from 25 ° C to 30 ° C, and the night temperature should never fall below 15 ° C. Due to low temperatures, eggplants do not produce fruits of the right size.
Seedlings are abundantly watered 24 hours before planting. Watering is repeated immediately before removing them from the pots.
The correct distance when landing in the ground is important. In the open ground, eggplants are placed at a distance of at least 60 cm between the rows. The distance between the plants should be from 40 to 50 centimeters, depending on the variety. They are developing enough, and need space and light, so it is not advisable to plant them too closely.
The wells are moistened with a large amount of water, and seedlings are immediately planted. The soil around is compacted, sprinkled with dry earth and peat. A film is laid on the ground, since seedlings do not tolerate low temperatures well. It helps seedlings to adapt to new conditions. The coating is removed only after a suitable weather is established – not earlier than mid-June. For the first two weeks, eggplants develop slowly. At this time, carefully loosen the soil and feed them with mineral fertilizers.
When planting, stakes are dug in for subsequent tying. The leaves of plants are tender, vulnerable. When the plant reaches a height of 30 cm, it is tied to a trellis.
How often do I need to water eggplants?
It all depends on the climate. Eggplants are resistant to drought because they have a deep root system. But it is also impossible to allow the soil to dry out. Lack of fluid leads to growth retardation, falling of flowers and fruits.
Watering once a week is usually enough. In the hot period more often – up to once every two days. Watering should be done at the root, avoiding getting the stems and leaves wet. After watering, so that the crust does not appear, loosen the soil.
It is necessary that the soil be moist, but not wet. Mulch retains moisture in the soil and prevents the appearance of weeds. If the seedlings are stuck in growth, then there is an overabundance of moisture.
Plants are fed from 3 to 5 times per season. The first time is 3 weeks after planting the seedlings. It is not necessary to fertilize during planting, since the root system is still too weak to absorb nutrients. With slow development, nitrogen-containing fertilizers are introduced. Before the appearance of fruits, they are fertilized with mineral complexes. During fruiting, nitrogen-phosphate is introduced.
Organic fertilizers affect the growth of stems, not fruits. They can be replaced with an infusion of nettle, dandelion or banana peel. During fruiting, the soil is sprinkled with ash or calcium sulfate.
With weak flowering, boric acid will help.
Eggplants belong to the solanaceae family, so they need to be stepsonized in the same way as tomatoes. Remove unnecessary leaves that take away the strength of the plant. To remove these stepsons, click on them, and they break off. The procedure should be carried out periodically during the summer. After pinching, the seedlings will quickly get stronger, and the process of flowering and the appearance of ovaries will accelerate significantly.
To make the eggplants ripen faster, the tops of the bushes are pinched. When forming a bush, skeletal shoots should not be more than three.
Eggplant varieties for open ground
Eggplant varieties differ in many ways. They can be not only traditionally purple, but also red, green, yellow, white and even striped.
They also differ in the size of the fetus and its shape. There are oblong, pear-shaped, oval and round. Their flesh is different in color and structure. It can be greenish, white and with different densities.
For open ground, it is necessary to choose those varieties that are most resistant to cold and temperature changes. In your farm, you need to use early varieties:
- “King of the North F1” is an early cold–resistant hybrid. The fruits are purple, long, thin (up to 30 cm).
- “Clorinda F1” oval shape, purple with a strong shine. The first ripe fruits can be removed for 66-68 days.
- “Bibo F1” is a hybrid with white oval fruits of medium size.
- “Bourgeois F1” is an early hybrid of a rounded shape, with a dark shiny skin.
- “Alexis”. The fruits have a classic shape with a white bitter pulp. Heat-treated excellent.
- “Bomber” – purple with a shiny skin. The fruit is elliptical in shape.
- “Mushroom flavor” is an early ripening variety (95-105 days) with a white skin. Cylindrical or pear-shaped, with a mushroom smell.
- “The gardener’s dream”. Fruits in the shape of a cylinder. The skin is smooth, shiny, dark purple. The flesh is white, dense.
- “Robin Hood variety” is an early variety. The fruits are pear-shaped, purple-brown, with a matte surface, without bitterness. Adapts well to any weather conditions.
- “Valentine F1” are dark purple, long and relatively thin. Inside, creamy-white, excellent taste, almost without seeds
- “Epic F1”. The purple hybrid forms large fruits. The inside is creamy white.
In addition to precocious varieties, gardeners grow eggplants with an average ripening period. They grow longer, so it is recommended to plant them only in those regions where they have time to mature.
Harvesting and storage
Depending on the variety, climate and planting time, the first eggplants can be harvested from the beginning of August. They should be ready for harvesting in about 65-80 days after transplanting, depending on the variety.
Additional information! Eggplants can be harvested after they reach a sufficient size and acquire a characteristic shine and color corresponding to the selected variety. They do not leave the fruits hanging on the bushes for a long time after ripening – they will become hard and tasteless. But also should not collect them too early, as they may contain toxic solanine, which can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions.
Unlike tomatoes, it is impossible to say for sure whether the fruits are ripe or not. When the side of the fruit is slightly pressed, the fruit is ripe.
The stems of the eggplant are tough, the fruits should be cut together with the cup with a sharp knife or a hand pruner, since the fruits are not so easy to separate from the plant, even when ripe.
The collected eggplants will be stored in the refrigerator for a week. Optimal storage conditions are temperature from 8 to 10 ° C, and relative humidity of 90%.
Diseases and pests of eggplant
It is believed that eggplants are susceptible to gray rot, Colorado beetles and spider mites. The most common threat may arise from flea beetles. Young seedlings are most susceptible to fleas. To protect the plants, use shelters for rows until they become large enough to withstand damage. Eggplants can be infected with the Colorado potato beetle.
Powdery mildew is another problem for eggplants. You can recognize it by the appearance of powdery spots on the leaves. From this they turn yellow and die. To prevent this from happening, you need to avoid watering on the leaves. The sun and proper air circulation help a lot.
Culinary use of eggplants. Eggplant benefits
Eggplant is a valuable vegetable in the kitchen because of its many uses and excellent nutritional qualities.
Nutrient-rich eggplants are part of many different dishes from around the world. They are good for our health, as they are rich in antioxidants, reduce the risk of heart disease and help control blood sugar levels.
Eggplants are not eaten raw, it is better to cook them steamed or grilled. They can be filled with minced meat and baked. As a rule, they do not need to be cleaned, the peel contains most of the useful substances.