Aubergine 'Long Purple' is one of the most commonly grown varieties in the world. They produce medium size fruits of elongated shape and a deep violet colour with good flavour. The plants grow to around 90cm (36in) in height with a spread of 60cm (24in).
Aubergines can be easily produced either raised in a glasshouse or plastic tunnel, in grow bags, in a sheltered sunny spot in a garden or even on a patio in a tub if sheltered from cool winds. Feed as you would tomatoes.
Often called eggplant because of the shape of earlier varieties, this is a lush, tropical plant whose fruits have become popular with our more adventurous changes in diet. In a warm season, plants can be very productive, especially under glass, outdoors they are sensitive to cold winds and heavy rain, and are best grown in large pots which can be moved under glass, if necessary. Pinch out growing tips when 30cm (12in) high to encourage branching, and stop fruiting sideshoots when five to six fruits have set. Pick fruits before the skin loses its gloss, a symptom of over-ripeness.
Sowing: Sow January to April for growing under glass or March to April for planting outdoors
Whilst Aubergine is a Tender Perennial, it is cultivated as an Annual.
Seeds are typically started eight to ten weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date.
Soaking the seeds in warm water 24hrs prior to sowing aids germination.
Sow 6mm (¼in) deep into 9cm pots containing a moist seed compost and “just cover” with a sprinkling of compost or vermiculite (do not exclude light as this helps germination)
Place in a propagator or warm place, and keep at a constant temperature of 20 to 25°C (68-77°F). Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged; germination will take between 8 to 21 days Transplant seedlings carefully while quite small into 15cm (5in) pots and grow on at 18-21°C (65-70°F).
For Outdoor Crops:
Acclimatise plants to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days. Plant out into sheltered site when all risk of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Plant 45cm (18in) apart in rows 90 to 120cm (3 to 4ft) apart. Aubergines grow well outside, but need gradual acclimatising to the more varied conditions.
A brilliant tip for this: enclose a block of plants, spaced about 60cm (2ft) apart in each direction, within a box of straw bales. These provide a brilliantly cheap but effective windbreak. If a cold night is forecast, simply drape fleece over the bales and anchor it with bricks.
For Greenhouse Crops:
Grow as above, but transplant into in 20cm (8in) pots or growing bags.
Stake as you would for tomatoes. Provide plenty of water, especially in dry weather.
Black plastic mulch is helps to warm the soil, prevent weeds and conserve moisture.
Feed every 14 days with high potash (tomato) fertiliser once the first fruits have set. Cease feeding when fruits are fully formed. Mist the foliage regularly with tepid water to discourage red spider mite and to help flower set.
The flowers are relatively unattractive to bees and the first blossoms often do not set fruit. Hand pollination will improve the set of the first blossoms. Tap flowers daily to assist pollination. Remove the main tip/growing point when plants are 30cm (12in) high.
Harvest: 80 days to harvest
First harvests can be made from the early sowings from July onwards. Harvest at their desired size, but while fruits are still shiny and young. Fruits are typically cut from the vine just above the calyx owing to the semi-woody stems.
Pick regularly or plants will need further support to support the weight of the fruit.
Freezing is the best method for home preservation.
Harvest before seeds become mature and when colour is uniformly dark.
Although we think of aubergines as being a vegetable they are technically a fruit. This is because the aubergine we eat is the ripened ovary of the flower.
Other fruits disguised as vegetables include the tomato, peppers, courgette and closely related to the courgette, the cucumber, pumpkin and squash.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Common Name aka 'Lunga violetta di Romagna 3'
Eggplant, Heritage (Italian 1870's)
Other Common Names Apple of Love, Poor Man's Caviar Other Language Names Brinjal, Melongene, Guinea Squash Family Solanaceae Genus Solanum Species melongena Cultivar Long Purple Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Height 90cm (36in) Spread 60cm (24in) Spacing Outdoors: Plant 45cm (18in) apart in rows 90 to 120cm (3 to 4ft) apart.
Greenhouse: Transplant into in 20cm (8in) pots or growing bags.
Time to Sow January to April for growing under glass or March to April for planting outdoors Germination 8 to 21 days at 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F) Harvest Harvest at their desired size, but while fruits are still shiny and young. Time to Harvest 80 Days