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How to grow aubergines

Overview

Like tomatoes, aubergines are members of the solanum, or potato family. Aubergines must be sown early (February to March) and kept in a warm, sheltered spot to ensure a good crop. Although they can be grown outside in milder areas of the country, the best results come from growing plants on a windowsill indoors or in a greenhouse. Large fruited varieties such as 'Black Beauty' should yield three to six aubergines per plant. Smaller fruited varieties like 'Fairy Tale' will produce at least 10 aubergines per plant.

How to do it

Sowing aubergine seed

1Fill pots with seed compost and lightly firm the surface. Place up to seven seeds on the surface of the soil, spacing them evenly.


Covering aubergine seed with vermiculite

2Cover the seeds with a fine layer of vermiculite. Place pots in a heated propagator set at a temperature of around 21°. Water sparingly, but keep the compost moist.


Aubergine seedlings

3Seeds should germinate within 2-3 weeks. Keep plants warm and avoid letting the compost dry out.


Transplanting aubergine seedling into individual pot

4Once the seed leaves have fully expanded, prick out individual seedlings into 7cm diameter pots. Handle the seeds by the leaf to avoid crushing the stem. Feed with a general liquid feed - such as seaweed - once a week.


Transplanting aubergine into 10cm pot

5When the roots emerge from the bottom of the pot, transplant the aubergine into a slightly larger pot, such as a 9cm or 10cm diameter pot. Repeat the process until the plant is in a 30cm pot. Use multi-purpose compost.


Removing the tip of the aubergine plant

6Remove the main tip of the aubergine plant once it is 30-40cm tall, to encourage branching. Tie stems to canes. Encourage flowering by feeding weekly with a high potash tomato fertiliser.


Aubergine flowers

7Encourage fruit to set by tapping the flowers to release the pollen or spraying lightly with tepid water. If plants are growing indoors, open windows to encourage bumblebees to pollinate the flowers.


Aubergine fruit developing

8Pick fruits when they are still shiny - dull fruits suggest seeds have started to develop and the fruit is past its best.


Adam's tip

Flowers can drop if conditions are too cool. If you can, maintain a temperature of around 21° to ensure a good fruit set and a high yield. Otherwise, gently tap flowers and spray with tepid water to encourage fruit set.
Grow plants in individual pots rather than growing bags.



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Talkback: How to grow aubergines
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supersuzie1 24/11/2011 at 15:29

i have an allotment but i don't have a greenhouse but i am lucky to have a friend that lets me use thier greenhouse so i will give aubergines this year along with my chillies and maybe a few tomatoes i will keep you posted on how i get on

Phil3 20/01/2012 at 08:57

A number of garden advice articles suggest 'maintaining a temperature of 21 degrees' Without heating my greenhouse, which is impractical and definitely not 'green' how is this achieved? My greenhouse varies in March, from 5 degrees to 30 degrees!

kimi2000 05/02/2012 at 14:28

i have had no luck whatsoever growing aubergines so any tips would be welcome

Daniel Haynes 06/02/2012 at 17:36

Good luck with that, supersuzie1 - do keep us posted.

Phil3 - you can start off aubergines in a small heated propagator (please see link below), but the plants do need heat once they've outgrown that. It might be worth a try anyway, and we might be blessed with a sufficiently hot summer to ripen the fruits. Or, alternatively, consider a crop that doesn't feel the cold quite as much!

kimi2000 - do take a look at our practical guide to growing aubergines, and Kate Bradbury's blog on the subject. Good luck

Patricia Freeman 17/02/2012 at 14:11

I grew 10 aurbergine plants last year, once growing well I put the plants into my greenhouse. I had plenty of flowers some did fall off but I didn't get one aurbergine, I have sown 6 seeds a few weeks ago and 5 seedlings are up, could it be that the pot size was the problem as the largest pot I used was 10cm?

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