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Exotic Eggs from India...


 
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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:43 pm    Post subject: Exotic Eggs from India... Reply with quote

Quote:
In regards to pests, like Tomatoes, aubergines suffer from similar buggers

It has been a funny old week this week as everything has seemed to come at once. Down the road from here, at Bewdley, Shrewsbury and Upton-on-Severn, things are very much flooded and forceful gales have felled a number of trees. But despite all this chaos I have been focused on the garden like a true purist; the greenhouse is the nuclei of the garden and this is where I have been pottering about. For a start, winter is rapidly passing and the list of seeds to be sown is lengthening- not a bad thing I might add-seeds that have previously been sown need pricking out and there is always the daily task of checking everything over, attempting to thwart any would be attackers. In the wind and the rain there is little else to do but spend your time in the greenhouse tending the little seedlings which, come summer, will provide food and flower for both our home and our families home.


Those of you who are dedicated followers will know that one of my many New Years resolutions is to try something new in order to learn something new, well, to this end I am having an attempt at growing aubergines (Solanum melongena). However easy they are- and I have acquired word from an insider that they are relatively easy to grow- I will be doing my utmost best to produce the glossy encapsulated fruits which bear an intoxicating ebony hue, for use in ratatouille and a dish that sounds too good to be true for me: roasted aubergines stuffed with mushroom and spinach served with a tomato and garlic sauce. In fact, I have just pricked out my aubergine seedlings into John Innes No 1 and they seem to be doing very well- thank you for asking.

It comes as no surprise to discover eating aubergines in years gone by was considered a sign of insanity (because of their relationship with the nightshade family solanaceae). Furthermore it does not seem unfeasible that it got it's name of eggplant from its earlier forms which were a brilliant white and highly resembled an egg. Originally, aubergines originated from India, or so it is thought, but it was Asia, around 3 A.D, that uncovered this plants culinary prowess. Beforehand, aubergines would have been used as table decorations in the USA with Americans gratifying Thomas Jefferson for bringing them a new fangled ornament back from Asia - I have to say that we, in this house, prefer a flower arrangement or a candle rather than a black bloated vegetable which would otherwise be devoured.

Informed that I am, I know that it is not worth purchasing an aubergine from the supermarket because, like all their other food, it is drenched with every chemical on the shelf and as for what it has been treated with- we wont go there. My word of advice is if you are going to buy aubergines buy them from the local farmer's market or, preferably, go one step further and grow your own. That way you are wise to what is going into that aubergine that will ultimately end up on your plate and the plate of your friends and your family- your children. All I say is if you are going to poison your family with so-called food don't use the supermarket as the source, guilty as they are, they will get off scot free just as they have been doing for more years than anyone can care to remember.

Anyway, moving on, the best time to sow the seed, if you have a heated greenhouse, is in January. If you have an unheated greenhouse then the end of February is soon enough. The seeds, you will find, are relatively large which contributes to their simplicity of sowing them individually into trays or pots of any compost that is not too rich (multipurpose compost is completely sufficient for this). To gain first-rate germination a temperature of 20oC should be maintained and ample moisture should be supplied either by placing on capillary matting, which I find very useful, or give the tray a good soaking with a fine watering can and do not water it again until germination has occurred otherwise rot will undoubtedly find it's way to your potential plants.

This year I shall be experimenting with aubergines as to whether they reach their peak performance in the greenhouse or in the vegetable garden. I imagine that greenhouse crops will fare better in the long run however with the recent hot summers it is very likely that an outdoor crop will crop similarly. Being a stickler for aesthetics I am most looking forward to the outdoor crop purely because their deep coloured fruit will bring body to an otherwise ample display. Obviously do not plant aubergines outdoors until all risk of frost has passed- June is early enough but, depending on where you are, planting time will vary inevitably. For a greenhouse crop, planting can start in April, planting into grow bags (two plants to one grow bag) or into large pots (10" minimum). Place these in good light with plenty of direct sunlight, moisture and regular temperature of 18-20oC. Good growers will advise that you pinch out the growing tip once the plant has reached 12" to allow for strong growth of side shoots that, in time, will add to the overall yield per plant.


When it comes to varieties you couldn't wish for more. One of my favourites is 'Black beauty' which is a standard black aubergines with a delicate taste and thin skin as opposed to some aubergines that possess a thick skin- in that case you may as well chew a tyre. The white fruits belong to varieties such as 'Easter egg' and 'Casper'. These are smaller than their well-known larger predecessors and have an eerie ghost-like appearance. Also available are bicoloured fruits; I would love to try these myself maybe next year so, at the moment, I can't tell you much about them other than they fall into varieties such as 'Violetta di Firenze' and 'Rosa Bianca'. These bicoloured fruits tend to be purple and pink but no doubt other colour combinations are now attainable. Just remember grow them for their taste not their appearance, a vegetable is for eating, it is a flower that is grown to be beautiful. Don't get me wrong vegetables are beautiful and there is something exotic about them but they don't need to be a patchwork of colours to exuberate that beauty, they do it themselves.

In regards to pests, like Tomatoes, aubergines suffer from similar buggers. The elusive whitefly will show up as will aphids and you may even be lucky enough to receive a visit from the legendary red spider mite. Where a solution of saltwater will deal with the aphids and whitefly something else is needed for red spider mite. That something else is Phytoseiulus persimilis (you don't know him? Really? Then let me introduce you): it is the best biological control of red spider mite you will ever find and it is readily available to purchase at any good garden centre. Just ask and they will give you a form to fill in, you pay, then the form is posted off and several days later you are the proud owner of a red spider mite predator.

Well...I hope I have at least persuaded you to try an aubergine let alone grow it. And, now my job here is done I shall go. The aubergines wont water themselves you know...
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2142
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:12 am    Post subject: Further Aubergine Growing Info. Reply with quote

Nice one, Adam. Smile
Theres more on growing the eggplant here.. http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=432
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