How To Grow Brinjal
Common Name: Eggplant, Aubergine
Indian Names: Baingan (Hindi), Badenekayi (Kannada), Kathirikayi (Tamil)
Botanical Name: Solanum melongena
Vegetable type: Berry (The brinjal is actually classified as a fruit!)
Varieties: White, Dwarf, Snake
The brinjal, which is commonly known as the eggplant or aubergine in the western world, is closely related to tomatoes and potatoes as it lies in the same Solanum family. It is a staple part of many cuisines all over the world, and used in many popular dishes, with one of the more famous ones (thanks to Disney) being ratatouille. They are also extremely healthy and can be prepared in many ways. Eggplants are high in iron, calcium, and fibre, and are a low-fat, low-calorie food as well. So before this vegetable finds its way onto your dinner table, let’s take a look at its main features.
Height: Generally ranges from 60-120cm (23-48in)
Width: The width of the leaves is around 5-10cm (2-4in) wide
Flowering Season: Eggplant generally flowers around 2.5 to 3 months after planting
Flowers: White with a purplish tinge
Foliage: Large leaves with rough texture
Sunlight: Full sunlight, i.e. 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day
Water: Regular water, make sure the keep the soil moist
Sowing Season: The seeds should be sown about 1 week before the end of the cold season, the month will vary depending on your climate.
Sowing Method: In tropical or subtropical climates, like India, the seeds can directly be sown into the ground. However, make sure that there is no more risk of frost, and that the cold season has truly made way for warmer climes. The brinjal plant requires lots of sun to thrive. The seeds need to be planted 1cm deep and spaced about 15 cm from each other. Water regularly and the seeds generally germinate within 2-3 weeks.
Care: Other than the basics of sun and water, the eggplant is generally quite a hardy plant, and does not need much external nutrients or feeding. A layer of mulch, though not required, will help the growth of the plant. Usually the first blossoms are not very attractive and do not yield fruit due to lack of pollination. However, this can be altered by hand pollinating your plants.
Pests: Aphids, beetles, and spider mites are the main pests which affect the growth of the plant. These can be picked by hand, and can be avoided with regular inspection for eggs on the plants. Bacterial rot is also a common ailment of the brinjal plant, which can be prevented by crop rotation, and letting the soil receive proper oxygen.
Harvest: The crop should be harvested around 2-3 months after germination, where the fruit is picked from the flower. Generally they are harvested over a month, with weekly pickings.
Propagation: Eggplants are propagated by primarily by seeds.
In an interesting fact, since the eggplant is closely related to the nightshade family of plants, it used to be thought that they were poisonous. However, they do contain trace amounts of nicotine as their seeds are related to tobacco. Fun facts aside, the eggplant has been seen and tested to significantly reduce cholesterol numbers and is a staple on dinner tables worldwide. So regardless of whether you’re in the mood for Chinese, Italian, French, or Indian cuisine, your homegrown brinjals can steal the show!