When To Sow Aubergines: January-March Harvest: August-October
Germination: 5-8 days Full Sun
Starting Aubergines Indoors
Seed should be sown from early January to late March for normal greenhouse production. Using a well-drained seed starting mix, sow ¼” deep and place in a bright, sunny location or supplement with artificial light. Soil temperature should be between 70-75F for optimal germination. At this temperature, the seeds usually take between 5-8 days to germinate.
Once your seedlings have 2-4 true leaves, transplant into a larger container and apply a good feed. Once the soil has warmed, harden off and transplant outside or into permanent pots. (The soils should be no colder than 50F at any given time). Select a sunny location where other members of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) have not been planted recently and in soil that is well drained and slightly acidic - pH 5.5-5.8 (you can buy simple test kits from most garden centres).
Adding compost or well-rotted manure into the soil will help retain moisture, which aubergines really appreciate. Applying mulch will also help. Aubergines are happiest planted in a bright sunny spot which is sheltered from strong wind.
Aubergines do best with a stake to give them some support. Once they grow up to 30cm trim the tip to stop further growth. Ideal container size is at least 1 gallon (3-4 litres). Remember too small a container will stunt the plants development and cause them to dry out very quickly.
Space 18-24" (46-61 cm) apart in rows 2-3’ (61-91 cm) apart.
The first flowers will appear when the plants are quite small – after around 4 weeks. Once this happens, feed weekly with a liquid feed high in potash, (13-2-13 or 15-0-15).
After 4-6 successful fruits have formed, remove the remaining flowers to give the rest of the energy into producing large, quality fruit.
Be careful with watering. Avoid over- and/or irregular watering. Use mulch to keep the moisture in the soil. Misting the plants daily with a water spray will help to encourage fruit set.
Support the plants with a cane to avoid having them fall over in breezy conditions or when the fruits form.