They began to cultivate eggplants in India, Central Asia, the Russian climate is considered too cold for this southern culture. But, despite the fact that eggplants were brought to Russia only at the end of the nineteenth century, they are already widely grown with great success, even summer residents from Siberia can boast of a good harvest of blue ones.
How to grow eggplants in the temperate climate of the middle lane will be discussed in this article. Particular attention should be paid to transplanting eggplant seedlings, since it is at this stage that inexperienced gardeners "lose" a large number of seedlings.
What is the peculiarity of eggplant
It is believed that growing eggplants in a summer cottage, or even in a greenhouse, is somewhat more difficult than coping with other crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- For many plants, the optimum soil temperature is 12 degrees. Whereas eggplants need land heated to +18 Celsius for normal development.
- The air temperature during the day and at night is no less important. First, there should be no sudden jumps in daily temperature. Secondly, eggplants like a warmer climate, the optimal range for them is from +18 to +26 degrees.
- Frosts are not at all permissible for eggplant - the plants will simply die.
- When the temperature drops to +13 degrees, eggplant bushes shed ovaries, flowers and leaves.
- It is much safer to grow eggplants in greenhouses, or at least to use film temporary shelters for immature seedlings.
- Eggplant does not like shade, this plant needs the maximum amount of sunlight.
- The plantings should not be thickened, and eggplants should not be planted near other tall plants or fences, hedges - the culture needs space and air, the leaves should be well ventilated.
An important factor is the long growing season of the eggplant. If in warm countries this culture can develop normally in soil and be grown from seeds, then in the temperate climate of Russia, eggplants are planted only in seedlings, giving preference to greenhouse plantings.
Important! The growing season for eggplant is 100 to 150 days. For the domestic climate, early ripening varieties are more suitable, on which the fruits ripen in 100-120 days.
How to grow eggplant
So, in order to grow eggplants in Russia, you will have to start preparing seedlings. The first thing to do is calculate when to plant the seeds. To do this, you need to know the ripening period of the fruits, this information can be easily found on the packaging with seed material.
The second factor is that seedlings are planted in the ground or greenhouse, usually at the age of 70-75 days.
Considering that in most regions of the country the land in the beds will warm up to the required 18 degrees only by the end of May - the beginning of June, it is possible to determine the optimal date for sowing eggplant seeds - the end of February - the beginning of March.
Attention! Eggplant seedlings are planted in unheated greenhouses earlier - around mid-April. Therefore, the seeds need to be sown a month and a half earlier, around January.
If the dacha or vegetable garden is located in a cold region where stable temperatures are rare, it is better not to risk it and plant the eggplants in a greenhouse.
It can be a heated capital structure, glass, film or polycarbonate greenhouse heated by the sun's rays, or at least a temporary shelter made of dense polyethylene or special agrofibre.
Having decided on the landing method, you can proceed to the next stage.
Preparing a place for eggplant seedlings
This step largely depends on where the seedlings will be planted. If this is a greenhouse, they begin to prepare the soil in it about three weeks before the expected planting of eggplants. Areas of open ground need to be prepared for "receiving" eggplants in the fall.
First of all, choose a suitable site. This should be the location:
- constantly illuminated by the sun;
- protected from drafts and strong winds;
- located on a hill or out of the blue;
- with light, fertile soil;
- which in the current season grew greens, potatoes, beets, carrots, beans or peas.
Advice! The best soil for eggplant is considered to be loam with good drainage, but at the same time, capable of retaining moisture for a long time.
It is clear that not all summer cottages in Russia are located on loamy soils. This is not scary - the composition of the soil can be "adjusted" to meet the requirements of the eggplant:
- rotted sawdust, peat or rotten manure will help to increase the moisture capacity of the soil (these additives are made at the rate of two buckets per square meter of the site);
- too dense clayey soils are loosened with the help of half-rotted sawdust, coarse-grained river sand, peat or rotten compost;
- soils with a sandy composition are diluted with peat, compost, sawdust;
- the prevalence of peat in the soil can be "softened" by sod soil and compost.
When the soil on the site is "balanced" and its composition is close to ideal, you can start applying fertilizers. In this capacity, urea, wood ash, superphosphate or potassium sulfate are used. In the required amount, the nutrient is introduced into the soil, after which the site is dug up at least 30 cm.
In spring, best of all after rain, when the ground is wet, the site is re-dug up and all weeds, roots and excess debris are removed.
For eggplant seedlings, you need to make rather high beds - the optimal height is about 30 cm.The distance between the rows should be at least 90-100 cm.It is best to plant eggplants in a checkerboard pattern - this way the seedlings will receive more air and light, and it will also be easier behind it look after.
Attention! You should not plant blue ones in the place where tomatoes, physalis, tobacco or bell peppers grew last season.
Preparing eggplant seedlings
Before sowing seedlings, you must select the seed. The best eggplant seeds are those that are two to three years old. It is better not to use last year's seeds, they give poor germination, besides, the germination time of such seeds is twice as long as, for example, two-year-old seeds.
Selected eggplant seeds need to be germinated. For this, it is better to take cotton wool or cosmetic cotton pads. It is not recommended to use gauze, as delicate sprouts can get stuck and damaged in its "cells".
Eggplant seeds are laid out on a cotton pad, which is well moistened with warm water. It is best to use rain or melt water for these purposes - this will speed up the process of "pecking" of the sprouts.
The cotton pads must be constantly wet, they must be additionally moistened every day. After 5-6 days, the eggplant seeds should swell, resulting in fragile sprouts.
The seeds are collected and placed for several hours in a container with a manganese solution or in a thermos with well-hot, but not boiling, water. This step helps to decontaminate the seed, which will subsequently help the seedlings resist disease.
Now is the time to prepare containers and soil for seedlings. At this stage, it is necessary to take into account the extreme fragility of the eggplant root system - these plants do not like transplantation very much and do not tolerate it well. To minimize stress on eggplant, it is recommended to sow their seeds immediately in individual containers. However, this is not always convenient, for example, when there will be a lot of seedlings, or the gardener has not yet had time to purchase small containers.
Peat cups are considered the best container for blue seedlings. These containers are 70% peat, which is always recommended to be added to the soil for this culture. The remaining 30% is cardboard, which also easily decomposes in the soil in 30 days, without causing any harm to its composition.
The soil for eggplant seedlings should be as follows:
- compost, sand and turf soil;
- peat, purchased seedling mix, sand;
- manure, sod land, compost;
- peat, compost.
Any of these formulations are great for growing eggplant seedlings. About two-thirds of the container is filled with soil, a small depression is made and poured over with warm water.
A seed is placed in each hole and sprinkled with a thin layer of soil. There is no need to compact the soil in the cup; the seeds must have access to oxygen. The containers are covered with glass or polyethylene and placed in a warm room, the temperature in which is constantly at the level of 25-26 degrees.
After half of the seedlings appear, the film or glass must be removed, otherwise the seedlings will rot and deteriorate. All seeds should germinate no later than two weeks after planting.
Advice! In individual containers, as a rule, two seeds are planted. After two leaves appear on the seedlings, you need to choose a stronger seedling from them, and remove the second one, carefully cutting it at the root with scissors.
Transplanting eggplant seedlings
If picking of seedlings cannot be avoided (for example, the weather is letting down, there is no stable heat for a long time, and the seedlings are already "outgrowing" their capacity), then this should be done very carefully.
A few hours before the pick, the seedlings are watered abundantly with water. You need to transfer eggplant seedlings with an earthen clod, trying not to damage the stem and roots of the seedlings. The blue dives should take root in a new place, it is better not to water them for about 5-7 days. But after this period, it is recommended to feed the seedlings with organic or mineral fertilizers and more frequent watering.
Before planting in a greenhouse or open ground, the seedlings must be hardened. To do this, eggplants are taken out into the open air for several hours every day. The "walk" time of seedlings should be increased gradually - from 10 minutes to 2-3 hours. Seedlings are placed on the leeward side where the sun is shining.
Transfer of eggplant seedlings to the ground
On the day of transplantation, beds are prepared for the blue ones. These should be high ridges with wide passages between them. The scheme for planting eggplant seedlings is as follows - 40-45x90-100 cm, that is, there should be no more than three plants on each square meter of land.
Transplanting eggplant seedlings usually occurs at the beginning of summer, when the weather returns to normal. In the prepared beds, depressions are made about 15-20 cm deep.
Attention! At the time of transplanting, the seedlings should be about 30-35 cm in height, on each stem - from 7 to 10 true leaves.
The seedling wells are watered with water, 1-3 liters of warm water are poured into each of them. You need to transfer seedlings with a lump of earth, or better, together with a disposable peat cup. The stem is always deepened more deeply than it was deepened before. It is better to cover the stem of the seedling with earth to the level of the lower leaves.
If the seedlings are transferred to the greenhouse, all the ground between the bushes must be moistened with a spray bottle - eggplants love high humidity.
After 10 days, the transplanted eggplant must be fertilized, for this you can use any fertilizer (mineral or organic) or their complex.
In general, blue ones need to be fertilized often: after the second, fifth, seventh and tenth leaves (during the development of seedlings) and three more times during the flowering period, the formation of ovaries and the ripening of fruits.
Features of eggplant care
We can say that eggplant is not a vegetable for every summer resident. Only those who can pay enough attention to their garden can count on the harvest of this whimsical and heat-loving plant.
After the seedlings are planted in the beds, the gardener needs to regularly:
- Water the eggplants as they like moisture very much.
- Help pollination of flowers if natural conditions in the greenhouse or on the site are not enough for this.
- Fertilize seedlings several times per season.
- Form plants by pinching the top and side shoots, plucking excess flowers, deformed fruits, removing dried or infected leaves.
- Pick the eggplants in time at the stage of technical maturity. If you wait for the full ripening of the fruit, you can significantly reduce the overall yield of the bush.
- Monitor the condition of the leaves and fruits, as the blue ones are a "tidbit" for many insects and diseases. If necessary, spray the bushes with special solutions.
- Loosen the beds at least five times during the summer, taking care not to damage the roots located close to the surface.
Transplanting eggplant seedlings is more difficult than doing the same procedure with seedlings of other plants. This culture is very demanding and capricious, all stages of growing blue ones require maximum return from the gardener. Therefore, eggplants are not suitable for those summer residents who do not have the time or opportunity to pay attention to their garden every day.