Phillip Schofield tells James Martin he doesn’t like aubergine
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Spring is here, and with it comes the fresh potential to grow your own food this year. But when it comes to aubergines, how can you ensure a bountiful yield if you live in less than balmy climes? Here is everything you need to know.
When should I sow aubergine seeds?
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), aubergine seeds are best sown early in the year.
Gardeners’ World advises sowing your seeds between January and April.
You’ll then plant your veg out in May and June, and harvest your reward in July, August and September.
How to sow aubergine seeds
Aubergines need warmth to thrive, so if you have a greenhouse, you can sow your seeds as early as January.
If not, you’re better off waiting until early March, and then you’ll need to sow them indoors before moving them outside later in the season.
To sow, pop the little seeds into a small pot or seeding module filled with seed compost.
Your little seeds will need to be kept somewhere between 18 to 21C while they germinate.
As soon as seedlings appear, move the pots to a warm, bright windowsill so things can get going.
How to plant your aubergine out
Once a couple of true leaves appear, you can move your little plant into a bigger pot, about 9cm.
Once the roots fill up that pot, you are good to move the plant to a permanent pot of about 23cm, or into the ground if you live in a very warm spot.
If you have a greenhouse, you’ll be good to plant out in April or May, but you should wait until June if you’re hoping to rely on the British summer.
If you’re planting more than one plant, give them plenty of room, about 60cm apart.
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How to care for your aubergine plant
The main thing these vegetables need to thrive is warmth.
Ideally, aubergines need a reliable temperature of around 20C to give you loads of yummy veg.
To encourage plants to fruit, you can either gently tap or shake the flowers with water to help release the pollen.
You can also grow pollinator plants nearby to entice pollinators to help you out.
Pinch out the growing tips of the main stems of your aubergine plants when 30cm high to encourage side shoots to develop.
Once plants have started to flower, feed weekly with a high-potash fertiliser or tomato feed, and mist with water to encourage the fruits to set.
When you have five to six fruits, remove any other small fruiting shoots.
Make sure to water and mulch your plant often.
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