How To Grow Aubergines
The Gardening Angel guide to growing aubergines
Aubergines (or Eggplants as they are known to our American friends) are getting more and more popular in the UK - this veg loves sunshine and warmth, however new cultivars are cropping up that are happy in our British Climate. Because of the conditions they require, we'd advise growing aubergines in a greenhouse for best results. Not sure where to start? Read our guide on how to grow aubergines in a greenhouse or polytunnel.
When to sow aubergines seeds indoors in the UK
You may have to sow aubergine seeds at slightly different times depending on whether your polytunnel or greenhouse is heated or unheated. Either way, we'd advise that for the healthiest start you sow seeds in a heated propagator (such as our Vitopod or Geopod). Sow your aubergines seeds at 18-21°C in seed-sowing compost in pots or trays - you can also start seeds in jiffy pellets or seed cubes. If you don't have a heated propagator, you can germinate seeds in an airing cupboard if you remove them as soon as they're germinated - they need lights!
If you'll be growing aubergines in a heated greenhouse, you can sow aubergine seeds in January. If you're growing aubergines in an unheated greenhouse you'll want to wait until February to sow your seeds.
If you are growing outdoors, you should sow aubergine seeds indoors from late March to April depending on the overnight temperatures.
How long to aubergine seeds take to germinate? When should I pot on aubergine seedlings?
Your aubergine seeds should start to appear after about around 2-3 weeks - some varieties may take longer so check your seed packet first. When the seedlings appear you should make sure your propagator/seed trays are in a bright, warm spot - using grow lights is ideal if you don't have the space on a sunny windowsill. If you are using a propagator open the vents when all seedlings have appeared.
Once the seedlings are around 3cm tall they will be large enough to be moved into individual 3 inch potswhich can stay in your propagator - once the plants are around 20cm tall they are ready to be planted into your Quadgrow.
How to make aubergine plants bushier
When the plant reaches around 30cm tall, you can pinch out the growing tip to encourage side shooting - ideally you should aim for four branches with one fruit on each one. Use canes in our Mulch Cap & Cane Support Kit or a support frame to support the branches, otherwise the weight of the fruit may tear the plant apart.
How much water do aubergine need and how often should I water my aubergine plants?
Aubergines have a lot of foliage which means they use lot of water, especially on hot days - you'll need to make sure your aubergine plant does not dry out but also that you don't overwater!
Thankfully your Quadgrow will keep your aubergines perfectly watered, healthy and happy!
How does the Quadgrow avoid overwatering aubergines?
Each of the planter's 4 pots contains a FeederMat which pulls water up from the SmartReservoir to the plants exactly when they need it. This slow watering keeps the soil perfectly moist without ever over-watering.
By pulling water up slowly the Quadgrow ensures there are always airgaps in the soil, so the roots have access to oxygen, which fuels more productive growth. Your plants will be bigger, healthier, more resistant to attacks from pests and will produce more chillies- that's what we're doing it for after all!
How to avoid common aubergine growing problems
How long do aubergines take to grow? When do I harvest my aubergines?
Aubergines can be harvested once they are about 15cm long, with a healthy shine to the skin - the flesh should give slightly if you gently squeeze it. Use a sharp knife or secateurs to cut the stalk to avoid damaging the plant.
What types of aubergines can you grow in the UK?
‘Moneymaker’ is a very productive, extra early variety, which produces glossy black, semi long fruits.
‘Long Purple’ is one of the most commonly grown varieties. It produces medium sized fruits, deep violet colour and good flavour. It does well being fed as you would tomatoes- our Nutrigrow will be perfect.
‘Snowy’ variety produces early maturing, cylindrical white fruits - it's very attractive and very tasty.