Sow aubergine seeds from February to May for indoor cultivation or March to April for growing outdoors. Soaking them in warm water for 24 hours before sowing will assist germination. Sow seeds on the surface of a free draining, moist seed compost and cover with 6mm (¼”) layer of vermiculite or compost. Place in a propagator or seal the container inside a polythene bag at constant temperature of 18-21C (65-70F) until after germination which takes 10-14 days. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, carefully transplant them into 7.5cm (3”) pots and grow on at a slightly reduced temperature.
When all risk of frost is passed and the soil is warm, harden off and plant aubergines in their final positions. For indoor cultivation, pot on into larger containers or plant 2 aubergines per growbag. Outdoors, plant aubergines in rich fertile soil at a distance of 90cm (3’) apart, in rows spaced 90-120cm (3-4’) apart. Grow aubergines in a sheltered position in full sun. Planting through black plastic mulch will help to warm the soil, control weeds and save moisture.
Aubergines grow best at temperatures of 25-30C (77-86F) with high humidity levels. Stake aubergine plants as they increase in size and pinch out the main growing tip to encourage a bushy habit. Water regularly to prevent buds from dropping. Once the first flowers have set, feed aubergines every 2 weeks with a high potash tomato feed. Restricting the crop to 5 or 6 per plant will produce the largest fruits. Harvest aubergines by cutting them close to the stem from August onwards, when the fruit appears fully coloured and shiny. Harvest regularly to promote further flowers and to extend the picking season.
February, March, April, May