Generalities of eggplant
Eggplant is an annual plant belonging to the Solanaceae family, cultivated for its fruit which is generally consumed and considered a vegetable
It is considered annual in temperate countries; in fact, it is particularly afraid of the cold and tends to find the ideal cultivation conditions where there are rather hot springs and autumns.
In reality where the conditions are ideal, as in the countries of origin (South Asia and in particular India and Burma) it can also be considered a perennial.
Characterized by an upright posture, it can measure from 50 cm to 1.20 meters in height. The flower has colors ranging from white to lilac and is solitary, carried in the leaf axil. The fruits, in the most common varieties, are dark purple. However, there are also white, striped, burgundy and even bright red varieties. Also the shape is very variable: from roundish to oval, up to elongated and very narrow.
The fruit grown has a spongy consistency and a rather unpleasant and bitter taste due to the presence of saponins. In modern varieties this flavor has increasingly disappeared thanks to the selection of particular cultivars. Once it was customary to eliminate it by putting the slices in salt. This favored, by osmosis, the leakage of liquids and with them of that substance. Today this practice can almost always be omitted.
The cooked fruit develops a rich and complex flavor similar to that of mushrooms.
Its name comes from "mela Insana", the fruit in fact contains the solanine which tends to disappear with maturation and disappears completely with cooking. It is an annual sufrutescente plant, with a rigid and branched stem up to 80 cm high.
The fruit is a berry with the upper part wrapped in the glass. It has an elongated shape and is rounded at the end, and is thick and purplish, or white.
Climate and terrain
Climate: loves the warm temperate climate, fears frost and humidity. Eggplant is a vegetable characterized by great sensitivity to temperatures. It is in fact particularly demanding in terms of heat. It requires to grow and fructify well at least 15-16 ° C during the night and at least 22-26 ° C during the day. If the temperatures drop to 12 ° C, the growth stops abruptly.
For these reasons this solanacea is cultivated mainly in the southern regions, where the production period is considerably extended. In the North it is inserted in full field only in late spring and to anticipate the harvest there is a wide use of greenhouses.
Please note however that even too high temperatures are harmful. The long stay above 35 ° C can cause the falling of flowers and fruits. In this case it is advisable to prepare shading nets if necessary and mulch the soil with straw and leaves to reduce perspiration.
Ground: it must be deep and rich in organic substances, the optimal pH is the neutral one. The eggplant requires medium-textured soils, rather loose, but very rich in organic substance. It grows very well in the vicinity of the sea because it does not particularly suffer from salinity in the soil and fairly well resists winds. Furthermore, the lower temperature range favors their rapid development.
|Family, genus and species|
Solanaceae, solanum melogena
|Type of plant||Annual herbaceous plant|
|Ground||Rich and loose|
|Irrigation||Abundant, especially between flowering and fruit set|
|Sowing||Late winter in the South, March in the North|
|Collection||Full field from July to September|
Turnaround and consociation
turnover: it is cultivated at the beginning of a rotation because it is a plant for renewal. It is good practice not to repeat the cultivation for about three to four years on the same plot.
Consociazione: favorable with cabbage, fennel and lettuce.
Eggplant particularly likes the proximity of salads, fennel and cabbage.
For the alternations we can include it among the plants for renewal. It is therefore among those that can be inserted when a crop cycle is started on a terrao, at the beginning of a rotation. In fact it is among the vegetables that require a richer soil.
Sowing and planting
It is carried out in a heated seedbed: in southern Italy in January-February, in the center-north in March. The seed will be distributed at the rate of 2 g per one square meter of seedbed. When the seedlings have reached 6-7 cm in height and have issued the fifth leaf, they are transplanted in the nursery and after two months they plant themselves in the garden at a distance of fifty centimeters on the rows and seventy centimeters between the rows. The operation will be carried out from February to May.
Organic fertilization consists of the deep burial of three quintals of manure for a hundred square meters of vegetable garden. Like all solanaceae to produce abundantly, it needs soils that are very rich in nutrients and in organic substance. It also tolerates manure that is not completely seasoned in an excellent way.
Usually, to prepare the plant, the soil is worked by incorporating at least 30-40 kg of soil conditioner for every 10 square meters of surface.
In general, however, only this processing is not sufficient because it is a matter of plants with nitrogen and above all potassium. It will therefore be necessary, before the final planting, to spread good quantities of granular slow release fertilizer. Excellent is what is also used for tomatoes.
We can say that for an ideal nutrition it is necessary to administer a product NPK 1-1-1 up to flowering, from flowering to setting 1-2-2, from setting to harvesting 1-2-3.
They consist of weeding and hoeing to eliminate weeds and air the soil, replacing dead seedlings and pruning or shearing.
tutors: The eggplants need the planting of the aid of supports. Without them the plant could be knocked down by a gust of wind or the weight of its fruits. The ideal is to equip them with an iron or wooden brace at least 50 cm high to which the stem will be tied in several points by means of raffia thread or plastic tube. You should not over tighten otherwise, with growth, bottlenecks may arise in the stem that could compromise the health of the individual.
topping: when the plants have reached about 40 cm in height it is good to proceed with the topping of the stem. From that moment all axillary buds must also be eliminated. In this way the plant will stop growing (it would have by nature an indeterminate growth, therefore the apexes would always be privileged) and will concentrate on the setting of the fruits already present.
It is carried out on fruits that are not completely ripe, from June onwards on the precocious, and lasts for four or five months on late varieties.
Even if it is a vegetable that must be harvested when it is still far from maturing, aubergines can be difficult to harvest the first few times, because unlike other fruits and vegetables, they do not undergo an evident variation of color during the maturation process.
Eggplants are in fact purple practically throughout their growth, becoming brownish only when they are near to rot. So let's see some indications that can come in handy for the eggplant harvest.
First we look at the peel and try to understand if it is shiny and shiny or if it is still opaque. When the aubergines are opaque they are still very immature and therefore should not be collected.
Another method is to touch the eggplant and feel its hardness. If it is too hard, it should be left to ripen for a while, while if it is too soft to touch, it should be completely removed because it could be very ripe, perhaps too ripe.
In doubt, however, try to collect the eggplant always in advance rather than late, because the vegetable will ripen a little bit once it is detached from the plant.
Proceed to the harvest with the help of a cutting tool such as a scissors or knife and cut the fruit on the twig just above the hairline.
To best produce these plants they always need a sunny and warm exposure, possibly sheltered from the cold wind. Better they will be positioned and better results will be achieved.
Irrigation must be constant. Before the setting, it is watered three times a week, then only once. Care should be taken not to wet the leaves to avoid creating situations that favor the development of cryptogamic diseases.
Pests and adversities
Among the cryptogams we mention the eggplant downy mildew which is treated or prevented by spraying with Bordeaux mixture.
The most common parasites are the red spider mite, the smallpox and the decemlineate Colorado beetle that can quickly destroy the crop. The latter is fought by practicing arsenate-based sprays.
Like the other solanaceae, the aubergine is the victim of several parasites. Colorado beetles, thrips, aleurodids, aphids, mites and even bedbugs are quite common. In general, if we were to incur one of these, we can use pyrethroid or pyrethroid based insecticides. The advantage is that they act quickly and generally have a rather short waiting time. They often allow us to collect and consume the product three days after the administration.
For mites you will have to instead resort to acaricides, unfortunately quite aggressive.
Cryptogamic diseases such as botrytis and basal rot may also arise. Fighting them is quite difficult, but what can be done is a good preventive work by regulating irrigation and lightening the soil with soil improvers.
If the plants grow in a too closed environment (for example a greenhouse), where humidity tends to stagnate, problems related to alternariosis can arise. It causes necrotic spots torn in the center, on leaves and fruits.
To prevent it, it is good to increase air circulation.
However, it is a good practice to distribute cupboards with a certain regularity.
Long violet Palermo, dark purple with elongated fruit; the long Violetta of the farms with violet fruit;
Early dwarf violet with small fruit.
The eggplant of Murcia with spiny leaves and stem, violet, round fruit;
The monstrous New York with huge violet fruit;
the common round of Florence, pale hybrid violet, with few seeds, tender and compact flesh
History of Eggplant
Introduced to Spain in the early Middle Ages by the Arabs, the eggplant is actually native to Asia and more precisely from India. At the beginning it was considered poisonous (hence its name which literally means "insane apple"). It was only re-evaluated starting from the nineteenth century, when it began to appear on our plates.
The current eggplant derives from a wild species, the solanum incarnum, endemic to Africa and the Middle East. Its domestication has been dated thanks to ancient Chinese writings and dates back to the first century BC. Like the tomato, this plant also had very small fruits, absolutely devoid of food interest. Only thanks to the selection and hybridization the fruit has become larger in size, ultimately what we know.
Eggplant: Sowing or purchase of seedlings
It is carried out from half to late winter in the southern regions. In the North it is preferable to proceed in the months of February and March, possibly using heated loungers. The ideal temperature for germination must be about 18 ° C. On average, with only 2 grams of seeds, plants can be obtained for about 100 square meters of land. To accelerate germination (which occurs on average in 12 days) you can place the seeds in the wet cotton wool and in a warm room.
The seeds can be placed in boxes (to then be re-covered), in peat jars (to be planted directly at home) or in alveolar trays, from which it will be rather easy to take the seedlings without breaking the earthen bread.
Purchase a possible choice for those who do not want to try their hand at planting or purchase seedlings from nurseries or specialized retailers. For those with a small plot of land, it can be an excellent solution. In fact, we often find plants that are very well set and of fruit-bearing and resistant varieties.
If we have little room we can also consider grafted seedlings: they should be more resistant to diseases of the root system and produce more.
Please note however that the use of resistant rootstocks must not exclude maintaining good rotation practices because if the soil is particularly infested with nematodes or other parasites, even the best root system can do little.
Watch the video
Downy mildew is a disease that affects both ornamental and horticultural herbaceous plants. It is caused by an attached mushroom
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