Eggplant or Brinjal
Eggplant, or aubergine, is a species of nightshade, grown for its edible fruit. Eggplant is the common name in North America, Australia, and New Zealand, but British English uses the French word aubergine.
Origin of Brinjal
Daunay (2008) has covered eggplant breeding quite extensively. According to his compilation, there are reports that S. in annum, a wild form of S. melongene is found in Southern India. S. in annum differentiated progressively, in South East Asia into a closely related species, the wild S. melongene which is still found growing in natural conditions in large areas of Southern and Eastern India to Southern China, Philippines and Indonesia and this has been described by former botanists as S. cumming.
Under domestication process, this wild form gave rise to S. ovigerous small round/oblong fruits with white, green or violet color which evolved progressively into advanced cultivars with large fruits. S. insane, widespread in India is probably a form of S. ovigerous which reverted to the wild state with strong prickliness.
Later on, all these taxa were brought under the umbrella of S. melongene. A. Decandolle has mentioned India as the place where eggplant was known since ancient times and regarded it as a native of Asia. According to N. I. Vavilov, the eggplant originated in the Indo-Burma region.
History Behind the Name
The term ‘eggplant’ is used by the Americans, Canadians, and Australians, because of the close resemblance between the yellowish white brinjals they get and the eggs of geese and hens. ‘Aubergine’, used in British English was obtained from the Persian ‘badenjan’ and Sanskrit ‘vatiga-gama’. India, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore call it the brinjal which was derived from the Portuguese ‘beringela’. ‘Melongene’, a rarer term was obtained from a French word further influenced by the Italian ‘Malan Zana’.
The most common brinjal in the world is the larger, elongated variety, which is usually purple to deep purple in color. However, white, yellow, green (‘Matti Gulla’ of Karnataka), orange and even striped brinjals have been grown, mostly throughout Asia. Chinese brinjals resemble cucumbers in their narrow shape. The vegetable also ranges in size (weight) from the larger ones weighing in at a kilo to the smaller types (‘Baingan’). In Thai cuisine, smaller, rounder brinjals are preferred.
Nursery Bed Preparation
Brinjal seeds are sown on nursery beds to raise seedlings for transplanting in the field. Raised beds are necessary to avoid a problem of water logging in heavy soils. In sandy soils, however, sowing can be taken up in flat beds. Raised beds of size 7.2 x 1.2 m and 10-15 cm in height are prepared. Thus, ten such beds are sufficient to raise seedlings for planting one-hectare area. About 70cm distance is kept between two beds to carry out operations of watering, weeding, etc. The surface of beds should be smooth and well leveled. Well-decomposed FYM or leaf mold may be mixed with the soil at the time of bed preparation. To avoid mortality of seedlings due to damping off, drenching of the beds with Bavistin (15-20 g/10 liters of water) is effective.
Raising of Seedlings
About 250-300 g of seed are sufficient for raising seedlings for one hectare of land. Prior to sowing seeds are treated with a fungal culture of Trichoderma ride (4 g/ kg of seed) or Thiram (2g/ kg of seed) to avoid damage from the damping-off disease. Sowing should be done thinly in lines spaced at 5-7 cm distance. Seeds are sown at a depth of 2-3 cm and covered with a fine layer of soil followed by light watering by water can. The beds should then be covered with dry straw or grass or sugarcane leaves to maintain required temperature and moisture. The watering should be done by water can as per the need till germination is completed. The cover of dry straw or grass is removed immediately after germination is complete. During the last week in nursery, the seedlings may be hardened by slightly withholding water. The seedlings are ready for transplanting within 4-6 weeks of planting when they attain a height of 15 cm with 2-3 true leaves.
Fertilizer for Brinjal
Fertilize your eggplants after you transplant the seedlings. Also, mid-season, when growing eggplants, side-dress plants with nitrogen.Planting eggplant is best when you can expect most growth to happen during the summer. Eggplants during the summer time heat, making the biggest fruits during this part of the growing season.Also, be sure during the summer heat that you water frequently and make sure the soil stays somewhat moist. Don’t let the plants dry out or you will not get the results you would like.
The tiny, black flea beetle is by far the worst nemesis of eggplant, but big, healthy plants usually produce well despite tiny leaf holes made by lots of flea beetles. In some areas, a common soil-borne fungus, verticillium wilt, can cause lants to wilt and die. Where verticillium is a common problem with non-resistant tomatoes (they are close eggplant cousins), grow eggplants in containers filled with premium potting mix.
Harvesting eggplants should occur when the inner flesh is cream colored, fruits are firm and before seeds are visible. Learning when to harvest eggplants may require cutting into the fruit to check the color of the flesh and the size of the seeds. Skin color and size of the fruit will also determine when the eggplant harvest should begin. When you’ve learned how to harvest an eggplant, less cutting into the fruit is necessary. You’ll be able to determine when to begin the eggplant harvest by just looking at the fruit.
Colorado potato beetle – Defoliates plants.
Eggplant is susceptible to the same verticillium wilt, a soil-borne disease, that affects tomatoes and potatoes. The best control is preventive: crop rotation. Do not plant eggplant where tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplant have been grown in the last 3 years.
Nutritional Value Of Brinjal
The wonderful health benefits of eggplants are primarily derived from its vitamin, mineral, and nutrient content. Eggplants are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K,vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, and manganese. It also contains almost no cholesterol, or saturated fat.
Brinjal Plant Grown in Container
Growing eggplant from seeds in a pot or container can be very easy. Every two seeds should be planted in one pot. You can take a clay pot or plastic gardening pots or trays for planting the seeds. The container should be filled with fertilized soil and a hole should be made in order to place the seeds. Cover it with heap of soil and water the seed. Leave it until the seed germinates; make sure that the location of the pot or container receives ample of sunlight and wind. It is also necessary to check the level of nutrients or minerals in soil prior to grow egg plants in a pot. In case of absence of nutrients or minerals, the grower can face various problems or issues.
One of the most important elements of container grown eggplant is the container. Choose a large pot with a 5-gallon capacity. Growing eggplant in containers requires 12 to 14 inches of space per plant or three plants can be placed in a 20-inch container.
Unglazed pots dry out more quickly than glazed pots, but they also allow the evaporation of excess moisture. If you remember to water, choose the unglazed pot. If you are a forgetful waterer, choose the glazed pots. Make certain there are large, unblocked drainage holes.
Eggplant starts are the best way to go unless you live in a sunny climate as they will give you a jump start on the growing season. The best medium for container grown eggplant is two parts good quality potting soil and one part sand. This ensures adequate nutrients and water retention while encouraging draining of excess moisture.Plant the eggplant at the same level they were in their nursery pots and put a handful of time release fertilizer in the hole at the time of planting.
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- While widely considered a vegetable, eggplant is actually a berry.
- Eggplant is related to tomatoes They’re both parts of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family.
- Eggplant is believed to have originated in India, where it is still considered the king of vegetables and is important in Indian diets.
- In Renaissance Italy, it was called mala insane or “crazy apple.”
- There’s even a Japanese proverb about eggplant: “If you see Mt. Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant on New Year’s Day, you will be forever blessed.”
- Eggplant is a perennial plant, which means it has a lifespan of more than two years.
- Eggplant also has the highest concentration of nicotine among vegetables, which isn’t particularly surprising since tobacco is also part of the nightshade family. Nicotine does not directly cause cancer or other ailments, having the same effect on the body as caffeine.
- Salting and rinsing eggplant can remove the plant’s bitterness. Today, eggplant is not as bitter as it used to be, but this practice is still useful. Salting will, however, reduce the amount of oil absorbed during cooking.
- An eggplant is more than 90% water. This high water content means it has very few calories. In fact, 100 grams of raw eggplant will contain only 24 calories, along with 14% your daily fiber needs!.
- China is the biggest eggplant producer in the world, having produced about 28,800,000 tons of it in 2012.
Read about other vegetables here