The Aubergine F1 Giotto or Egg Plant is a member of the tomato family, to which Peppers also belong. Whilst demand for aubergines is increasing in the U.K., The aubergine F1 Giotto produces rounded oval fruits of a glossy dark violet colour. The upright foliage aids ventilation, which is especially useful when grown under plastic. Good resistance to handling marks and oxidation when cut. Has a flexible growing regime, as it can be grown in heated glass, cool glass and under plastic.
Aubergines require the same scientific approach to feeding, watering, climatic control, pest and disease control etc as Tomatoes if they are to crop well.
Programme: Sow January to March, plant up April onwards.
Cropping starts around five months after sowing.
Sowing: Aubergine Moneymaker F1 seeds from February to May for indoor cultivation or March to April for growing outdoors. Soaking them in warm water for 24 hours before sowing this will assist germination. Sow seeds on the surface of moist seed compost and cover with 5mm layer of compost. Place in a propagator or seal the container inside a polythene bag at constant temperature of 18-21C (65-70F) until after germination which takes 10-14 days.
Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle into 7.5cm (3in) pots and grow on steadily in a slightly reduced temperature. Pot on finally into a larger container or 2 plants per grow bag, or outdoors in the open bed plant 70cm apart once plants have been acclimatized to conditions and after all risk of frost has passed.
Plants are supported with vertical strings or canes, and also with horizontal ties or loops around the plants to keep them from sprawling if 2-3 stems are allowed to develop. How much pruning to do to avoid over cropping is a matter of some difference of opinion. While 2 or 3 stems can be taken, plants can be maintained on one stem with side shoots reduced beyond the flowers which form. The basic object is to aim for 5-6 fruits per plant, though this can be exceeded on longer term culture. Lower leaves are removed as they become yellow, otherwise they will trail and become diseased.
Spacing of the crop 40cm apart at 150cm between rows.
There is evidence of poor setting of fruit if night temperatures are too high - and as high humidity is also said to encourage poor setting, Ideally, the plants seem to respond to higher day, lower night temperatures.
Feeding is similar to Tomatoes, with more emphasis on nitrogen to encourage and maintain growth.