Plant Eggplant is similar to the plant potatoes and plant tomatoes. Eggplant, commonly known as brinjal or aubergine, belongs to the nightshade family Solanum Melongena. The seeds of eggplants are bitter, unlike the seeds of tomato, but they are edible too. The eggplant skin is also edible, but it cannot be eaten raw, but it is usually cooked before eating like a potato.
Eggplants are a warm-weather plant that is considered to be originated from India. Just like tomato, it is also botanically defined as a berry. Eggplant is generally viewed as a vegetable, but it is a fruit that is mostly used in China, Egypt, India, and many other countries.
Eggplants can be well grown in the soil rich in organic matters and provide a balanced pH with the area fully brightened with sunshine or lightly shaded areas. To plant Eggplant requires higher temperatures for perfect growth. Preparing the bed two weeks before plantation brightens the chance of healthy development of the plant.
The well-drained, loamy soil with the ideal pH between 5.5-7 helps plants to reach harvest successfully. Eggplants are heavy feeders that require 2-3 pounds of organic fertilizer around 15-5-10 per 100 sq.ft. The organic fertilizer that is used to plant Eggplant includes cottonseed, blood meal and well-rotted manure is also the active factor that leads to the crop’s successful development.
The best way to grow eggplant is to sow the seed ¼ to ½ inch deep spaced 4 to 5 inches apart inside an individual container to avoid the harsh cold weather. The seedlings emerge in about 5-6 days, and 12 hours of indoor light enhance seedlings’ growth.
Before transplantation of the seedling, keep the soil warm by laying black plastic over the planting bed. Hole in the ground and provide an adequate amount of water to moist the soil. Set the plant in the hole, and the ideal time to transplant outside is after 6-8 weeks. Use the aged compost to cover the hole lightly and firm the soil around the root ball. Gently water it to moist the soil. Space eggplants 24-36 inches apart and space rows around 30 inches apart.
Regular watering is required for eggplant for a healthy root system. Eggplant nurtures well in warm weather; chilly weather leads to the destruction of the plant. The seedlings demand 1 inch of water every week. Eggplants do not like waterlogging. Too much moist causes the destruction of the fruit.
The moisture is equally essential for growth before the soil dries up. Regular weeding and control the soil temperature are the two primary sources to nurture the plant successfully. Mulch after every four weeks is suggested if the moisture of the soil needs to retain.
Fertilizers can be mixed with water and given to the plants for a good start. Phosphoric acid and ammonium nitrate are preferable; however, massive nitrogen fertilizer should not be used. Spray-mist foliage with compost tea to avoid the poor soil condition.
Eggplants usually produce plump fruits that should be caged or stake before it tips or falls. Use herbicides to kill weeds if no mulch is used. It’s best to remove the weeds before plantation.
The eggplant is a fruit that usually takes around four to five months or 100-150 days to mature. The time between sowing and harvesting is 16-18 weeks. The best way to identify when to harvest the eggplant is when the fruit is glossy, firm, and full-coloured.
Young eggplants can be harvested when the flesh becomes pithy. The eggplants containing no seeds are immature and taste bitter. Similarly, if the fruits are found with hard seeds and dark colours are overripe and lose their taste.
A sharp knife or pruning shear is usually used to gently pluck it out of the plant to avoid any damage and bruising. A short stub of the stem can be left with the fruit.
Stake or cage the heavy fruits before it tips or falls. Use herbicides to kill weeds if no mulch is used. It’s best to remove the weeds before plantation.
Eggplant can be stored in a slightly warm and dry place that can easily preserve vegetables for one week. A favourable condition for maintaining eggplant with adequate ventilation help in the preservation of the fruit.
To store the eggplant in the refrigerator, make sure not to wash and slice it; only clean the eggplant skin. It is best not to refrigerate it due to its nature against the chilly environment. The maximum temperature to keep the eggplant storage is around 50°.
- Add fertilizer enriched with compost tea and dilute fish emulsion to prepare the seedbed before transplantation.
- Avoid excessively dry soil and prefer moist soil but keep it away from waterlogging.
- Plant it closer to nitrogen-fixing crop but do not grow it with tomatoes and corns.
- The maintenance of temperature, i.e., 70° F or thereabouts, helps in smooth germination.
- Use a soaker hose for a sufficient amount of water.
- The ideal pH of the soil is 5.5-6.8 to avoid the fail attempt of growing fruit.
- Provide protection to the fruit from unexpected late frost that can cause harm to the plant.
- Regular spray plants with compost after every two weeks reduce the harmful effects of aphids.
Eggplants are the fruits that require a long period to grow and need the care of a gardener where they face some issues. Eggplants are afflicted with the problems that can cause significant harm to the plant even after the ideal condition for the growth. The most common problems can be diseases and pests.
Eggplants are prone to fungal and bacterial diseases. Hence, the fungal disease Cercospora leaf does not affect the vegetable’s taste, but it causes the wilt leaves and yellow lesions on the foliage. To prevent the loss, avoid waterlogging, and balance the pH of soil.
The warm temperature of soil triggers the fungal infection Fusarium wilt that can destroy the plant. To prevent the ground, remove dead and infected plants.
Verticillium wilt causes the plants to wilt, turn brown, and suddenly die. They are caused by wet weather or too much watering. Wilt Early blight and Late blight cause yellowing of leaves or discolouration of stems.
Wireworms are the soil larvae that stunted the plant’s growth and turned the leaves yellow and brown. The soil check before the plantation and removal of infected leaves reduce the effect of wireworms.
Leaf-hoppers leave the plant with scorched and wilted and suck the juice of the plants. Using insecticidal spray prevents the plant from the attack of leaf-hoppers.
Eggplant aphids leave the plant with small shiny specks and produce honeydew that turns the plant into the sooty mold. Using insecticidal spray and blast of water wash prevents the plant from the potato aphids.
Eggplants are low calories fruit and enriched with nutrients. Eggplants are used in every house on daily bases in many different ways. They are used for food purposes like soup, salad, lasagne, etc. As eggplants are a source of potential health benefits and high in demand for their beneficial properties, they prove economically advantageous to the farmers.