When To Sow Aubergines: January-March Harvest: August-October
Germination: 5-8 days Full Sun
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.
Eggplants or Aubergines thrive when planted with beans, peas, spinach, thyme and marigold. They also do well with peppers, as they like the same growing conditions.