Eggplants need a long, hot growing season of at least five months and can be perennial in frost-free areas, cropping for several seasons. They need fertile, well-drained soil. They can be grown from seed sown directly in the ground, but because they take a long time to fruit, speed up the process by growing them in trays four weeks before planting time, then plant the seeds when the ground warms up. Seeds will take about 2-3 weeks to germinate. Seedlings should be spaced about 45-60 cm i.e. 1.5 to 2 ft apart. Take optimum care while transplanting as it might disturb the plant growth. The plant will fruit after 3-4 months.
Eggplants grow about 40-90 cms as compact, self-supporting shrubs; but the heavier varieties might need support.
Brinjal Plant Diseases:
Like tomatoes, eggplants are a part of the Solanaceae family and are prone to the soil borne disease Verticillium wilt. To get rid of the disease the plant needs to be removed completely. Apart from this Aphids, Caterpillars, Fruit flies, Two-spotted mites are a threat too.
Harvest the brinjals only when the skin is firm and smooth. If the fruit is left on the tree for long, it will indeed develop wrinkles and taste bitter. Pick the fruit only with Pruning Shears as the top of it bears thorns. Large varieties will produce 6 to 8 fruits per plant.
- Classic large, oval, pear or teardrop shaped fruit are European or Italian types. They grow about 15-25 cm long and are available in varieties like purple-black, soft-lavender, or pale-green skin.
- Black beauty is the most popular and reliable variety.
- The Asian or Lebanese varieties are about 10-20 cm long. They are finger-like fruits that grow in clusters of 3-6. Each plant bears about 40-50 fruits.
- The Thai Green variety produces slender, light green fruit that grows up to 30 cm long.
- Casper is a French variety with white skin, elongated fruit to 15 cm.
- Thai round green is a favorite variety in Asian cooking. Its small, round fruit, striped in light green and white, grows up to 5cm across.
Buying and storing Brinjals:
- Buy the eggplant that is plump with smooth skin and has a good weight for its size.
- Choose moderately sized eggplants only, as the larger ones might have seeds inside them.
- They can be stored for up to 3 days in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
- Smaller ones can be stored in a loosely sealed plastic bag.
Health Benefits of Eggplant:
Research has proved that Eggplants contain phenols that might help in maintaining blood glucose and blood pressure levels. A flavonoid in eggplants is called Nasunin and may help in keeping the cholesterol levels low.