Growing Eggplant Seedlings

The eggplant is always associated with purple color and oblong fruit. But recently breeders offer such an abundance of varieties and hybrids, unusual in appearance and structure, that it is difficult for the buyer to choose: round, white, striped, black, admiring and alarming. The taste, yield, and technology of growing seedlings and adult plants are unknown. To grow a large crop, and an eggplant bush is capable of forming up to 25 fruits, you need to know some biological features of these Indian aliens. By fulfilling the requirements for cultivation (by creating familiar conditions), you will always be with a high quality harvest, regardless of the variety or hybrid growing in your vegetable garden.

Growing eggplant seedlings
Growing eggplant. © Joel Ignacio

The basic requirement of eggplant is the length of daylight hours (no more than 12-14 hours). Eggplant plants have short daylight hours, and lengthening the daylight hours even by 1-2 hours results in failure to form ovaries during the main warm period (June, July). With the reduction of day length (August, September), eggplants intensively form yields, but much less, since two main summer months are missed, when heat and other necessary conditions are sufficient.

Eggplant varieties, especially old ones, are bound to the length of day and this trait in old varieties is unchangeable. At present, new generations of plants - hybrids and varieties with little sensitivity to the length of day have been created. They can grow in any latitude. So, before you go to the market, look at the calendar, which clearly spells out the longitude of the day of your area. Familiarize yourself with the varieties and hybrids of eggplant that experts recommend for your area and go out to purchase seeds or ready-made seedlings.

Technology of growing eggplant seedlings

Seed preparation

Gardeners often buy ready-made seed material in the market or from private individuals. This is the first mistake. You do not know what quality and variety of seed they sell you. Always buy seeds from specialized stores and centers. They are already processed and prepared for sowing. Seeds of home collection should be varietal, hybrids will not form the desired yield. In this case, it is better to buy ready-made seedlings in specialized trade centers.

Selecting eggplant seeds when buying

When buying seeds, carefully read the instructions on the bag:

  • the name of the variety or hybrid, legal information about the producer (phone, physical address, etc.) should be clearly stated,
  • when buying a hybrid, give preference to the first generation (label F1). Seeds of this generation are most resistant to temperature conditions, diseases and pests,
  • number of seeds in the bag,
  • date of seed collection,
  • preparedness of seeds for sowing (treatment).

Self preparation of seeds for sowing eggplant seedlings

  • To awaken the seeds from biological dormancy and to accelerate the appearance of eggplant sprouts, warm them in a thermos or hot water. When water temperature is +45...+50 °C we dip the seeds in gauze knotting for 3-5 minutes (be careful not to boil them).
  • After heating we disinfect (decontaminate) eggplant seeds in 1% solution of manganese to protect them from diseases. We dip the seeds in a gauze bag into the solution for 15-20 minutes and wash them under running water. Instead of manganese, you can etch the seeds from bacteria and fungi in a solution of one of the biofungicides phytosporin-M, alirin-B, Gamair SP, trichodermin, albit according to the recommendations. In this case, the seeds are not washed, but immediately dried until loose.

Eggplant seeds germinate slowly and need sufficient nutrients in the initial stages. Therefore, they still need to be treated with growth stimulants and nutrients. To reduce the number of seed treatments you can combine disinfection with biofungicides, growth stimulators (Epin, Ideal, Zircon and others) and microfertilizers (Microvit, Citovit) in a tank mixture.

When preparing the tank mixture, dissolve each preparation separately according to the recommendations, and then pour into one container and mix. Seed material after heating is lowered into the solution for 10-12 hours. Then, without rinsing, dry at room temperature until loose. © Hey! Sam!

The last stage of preparation of eggplant seeds for sowing - hardening

Prepared dry eggplant seeds are kept in the room at +18...+22 °C during the day and transferred to the lower shelf of refrigerator at +2...+3 °C at night. This procedure is repeated for a week (5-6 days).

After hardening the seeds are almost ready for sowing. To accelerate the appearance of seedlings 2-3 days before sowing the eggplant seeds are germinated. To do this, they are scattered on a damp cloth in a dish, covered with the same damp cloth on top and put in a warm, dark place. As soon as the seeds are poured, they are transferred to dry bedding, dried and sowing begins.

Preparing the soil for sowing eggplant seeds

The soil mixture for sowing eggplant seeds must be neutral in acidity, light, air- and water-permeable, water-holding, saturated with nutrients, decontaminated from fungi, viruses, bacteria and pests.

Recommended soil mixture:

  • mature humus 2 parts,
  • dark soil 1-2 parts or 1 part of high peat (neutral),
  • 1 part of sand or semi-decomposed sawdust (not coniferous).

You may use another combination:

  • 1 part of humus (biohumus) or 2 parts of peat,
  • 2 parts of sod or leaf soil,
  • can add 0.5-1.0 part of sand.

We must disinfect the mixture by the most convenient way for you (by heating, burning, steaming, freezing or other). After drying the disinfected soil mixture, revive it by mixing it with biological preparations Baikal EM-1, Trichodermin, Planriz and others. They contribute to the rapid reproduction of useful or effective microflora (EM preparations) and simultaneously destroy microbial and fungal pathogens.

If the soil treatment was carried out wet method (solutions), then again dry the substrate and fill up with fertilizers per 1 bucket of soil mixture 30-40 g nitrophoska and a glass of wood ash. You can make a mixture of fertilizers: 15-20 g of urea, 30-40 g of granulated superphosphate, 15-20 g of potassium sulfate or a cup of wood ash. You should thoroughly mix the mixture and fill the prepared container with the potting soil.

Growing eggplant seedlings
Gardening of eggplants. © Chris Traweek

Timing of Eggplant Seeds

Eggplants are characterized by a long growing season and a slower rate of development. Depending on the length of time from seedlings to technical maturity eggplants are divided into 3 groups:

  • early,
  • medium
  • late.

In early eggplant fruit technical ripeness comes on 85-90 day from sprouting, in the middle 90-120 and late 120-150 days.

In southern regions of Russia and other regions of the eggplant seedlings are sown in late February - first decade of March. In the open ground seedlings are planted from the middle of May to the first decade of June. Depending on the timing of maturation of the fruit, seedling planting is shifted in relation to the first term for 10-12 days.

It is possible to simultaneously sow early, medium and late varieties of eggplant seedlings, but the terms of the transfer to the open field will be different: the early eggplant at 45-55 days, medium 55-70 days and late 70-80 days. It is possible to plant seedlings in earlier terms on the permanent, if it overgrows (stretches out) and weather conditions are suitable.

In the middle belt and northern regions of Russia when planting seedlings in the open ground or unheated greenhouses, under temporary shelters, eggplant seedlings are planted at the age of 60-70 days, that is sowing for seedlings is conducted in the 15 days of March. Planting a permanent planting extended until the first decade of June, when the coming stable warm weather. Late varieties can also be grown in these regions, but they require heated greenhouses, extra lighting and other additional conditions (which is unprofitable). © Brittany Hotard

Technology of sowing eggplant seeds for seedlings

Aggplant does not tolerate transplants, so it is better to grow seedlings without picking. In the prepared container moderately moisten the soil mixture. In overwatered soil, the seeds may suffocate and will not grow. I put a special grid with nests 6x6 or 8x8 cm (depending on the habitus of the future bush). In the middle of each nest I sow 1-2 seeds to a depth of 1-2 cm. With such schemes with 1 sq. m of the total area yield of seedlings will be on average 250-150 pieces of seedlings.

After sowing the eggplant seeds I cover with the same soil mixture layer of 1-2 cm. If the sowing is carried out in separate containers (cups, peat-mulch pots, special cassettes), I place them in a common box and place in a warm, dark place. If the sowing is carried out in a greenhouse soil, I cover the sowing with a lutrasil. Shoots appear in 1,5-2,0 weeks.

If you decide to grow seedlings of eggplant through picking, it is carried out in the phase of 2-3 true leaves. For 2-3 days before picking, watering, so as to traumatize the root system less. Transplant into containers or containers with a larger feeding area, deepening the plants to the cotyledon leaves. The plants are shaded, and the soil is kept moist. Watering is carried out with warm, standing water.

Temperature regime for eggplant seedlings

Temperature regime plays a significant role in the cultivation of healthy seedlings. Therefore, it is necessary to adhere to the recommended temperatures:

  • The soil temperature from sowing to sprouting should be maintained within +20...+28 °C.
  • During the first 2 weeks after sprouting, the soil temperature at night is reduced to +17...+18 °C, and during the day is maintained within +20...+22 °C.
  • After that time up to hardening of seedlings the soil temperature at night and during the day is maintained within the limits of post-sprouting temperatures.
  • Air temperature during the first week after sprouting nighttime is reduced to +8...+10 °C, and during the day is maintained within +14...+16 °C.
  • Following time (from seedling hardening to hardening of mature seedlings) air temperature is +11...+14 °C, and daytime depends on lighting. On sunny days you can raise the temperature to +25 ... +27 °C, and on cloudy days reduce it to +18 ... +20 °C. The change in air temperature is necessary so that the seedlings do not pull out.
Growing eggplant seedlings
Eggplant seedlings on day 43. © janetho88

Care for eggplant seedlings

In the period of growth and development of eggplant seedlings, besides temperature regime, it is necessary to monitor soil and air humidity, timely feed seedlings, protect them from pests and diseases, to conduct hardening. Non-hardened seedlings when planted in altered environmental conditions become ill and may even die.

When pests (aphids, caterpillars, whitefly) appear, eggplant seedlings are sprayed with bioinsecticides according to the recommendations (fitoverm, Bitoxybacillin, Lepidocide and others).

The watering of eggplant seedlings

I water every 2-3 days with moderate rates of water heated to +20...+25 °C. After watering, I mulch the soil with dry sand to prevent root rot.

When watering twice a month, I add antifungal biopreparations (Trichodermin, Planriz and other biofungicides) to the irrigation water. They are harmless to humans, which is especially important when growing seedlings in a living room. I decrease humidity by airing without draughts.

Feeding of cormorant seedlings

First feeding I carry out in the phase of 2-3 leaves or 1.5-2.0 weeks after pickling. I introduce feeding with irrigation water. I prepare a nutrient solution at the rate of a bucket of water: 5-10 g of urea and 30 g of water-soluble superphosphate. You can prepare a solution from a full mineral fertilizer, dissolving 30-35 g of nitrophoska in 10 liters of water. After fertilizing leaves washed with clean water from a sprayer to prevent chemical burns of young plants.

The second feeding I spend the same composition for 7-10 days before planting on a permanent basis, but without nitrogen. It is better to spend the second fertilizer "Kemira" fertilizer, designed for the complex care of plants. This fertilizer contains besides the main nutrition elements boron, manganese, molybdenum, iron, which will give the plants additional energy. © jesse keen

Hardening seedlings

Before planting permanently (for 2 weeks) I accustom the plants to new environmental conditions. Gradually reduce the frequency of watering, reduce the temperature in the room, for which I take the container with eggplant seedlings in the corridor or on a glassed balcony, loggia. Initially, the seedlings survive for 2-3 hours, gradually leaving for a longer period in a cooler room. If there is not enough light in the corridor include additional lighting.

Hardened seedlings prepared for planting should be 16-25 cm high, with 7-9 dark green leaves, 1-3 buds, a well developed lobed root system, and a straight trunk.

Aggplant varieties and hybrids

Eggplant early-ripening

  • Bibo F1 (87-93 days);
  • Black Beauty (60 days);
  • Fabina F1 (40-50 days);
  • Mileda F1 (66-75 days).

Bacon early

  • Alekseevskiy (from sprouts to harvesting 90-100 days);
  • Valentina F1 (90-95 days);
  • Behemot F1 (100-105 days);
  • Quartet (107-122 days);
  • Maxic F1(90-100 days);
  • Nancy F1 (75-85 days);
  • Lilac Mist (102-105 days);
  • Purple Wonder (95-100 days).

Buckling medium

  • Diamond (109-150 days);
  • Cometa (118-125 days);
  • Swan (100-130 days);
  • Matrosik (104-110 days);
  • Surprise (116-120 days);
  • Ping-Pong F1 (116-117 days);
  • Pelican F1 (116-117 days).

Late eggplants

  • Mishutka (133-145 days);
  • Sophia (134-147 days).

Early and early eggplants can also be grown through seedlings in northern regions of Russia. With the creation of appropriate conditions of protected ground. Medium and especially late ones are suitable only for southern regions and moderately warm zones of the Russian Federation. When selecting planting material, select zoned varieties and hybrids. They are close to the climatic conditions of the area, the length of daylight, are more resistant to damage by diseases and pests.

Attention! As usual, we ask you to write about your ways and tricks of growing eggplant seedlings in the comments to this article. Please don't forget to specify in which region you grow them and at what time you sow and plant them permanently. Thank you!

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