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GROWING OF BRINJALS. (Transplanted veggies)
Botanical name: Solanum Melongena
Common Names : Egg Plant (in North America, Australia)
Brinjal (in South Asia, South East Asia, South Africa)
Brinjals love sunlight and grows 1 1/4 ft to 5ft tall depending on the variety. It has coarsely lobed leaves with purple flowers for purple brinjals and white flowers for green brinjals. There are several varieties in brinjals – purple, purple with white lines, green, green with white lines, dark purple and white. In each color variety, you will see that both round and long shapes form a sort of sub-species. It can grow throughout the year, but best time for planting saplings is between Jan – Feb and July-Aug.
Brinjals can be grown through seeds. First, sow seeds in seedling trays or small paper cups. Germination will start within one week to 10 days. After which, you can transplant the seedlings in 30-35 days’ time.
Pro trays (or Propagation trays) are employed for growing vegetable seedlings. Pro trays are just plug trays with 2″-3″ depth having a drainage hole. Initially the plugs are half-filled with Coco peat and one seed is sown in each plug and covered with compost or sand mixed compost. After sowing, the pro tray should be irrigated immediately. The pro tray is covered by a poly film till the seedlings emerge. Once the seeds have germinated, the poly film can be removed, and the trays be kept in sunlight until noon. After that, they need to be moved to the shade. Most of the seedlings will be ready for transplanting within one month from the date of sowing.
 BASIC POTTING MIX :
(a) Brinjals grow well in a very rich soil that’s packed with nutrients. You can enrich the soil using compost. Neglecting to add nutrients to the soil may result in brinjal plants that don’t produce a lot of fruits.
(b) Potting mix can be prepared mixing Soil/ Coco Peat/ Manure in the ratio 1:1:1. The manure can be either COW DUNG or VERMI COMPOST or HOME COMPOST. To this mix, neem cake /pungam cake should be added to protect the plant from root borne diseases.
(c) Put the potting mix in the desired container, keep in sunlight and water it daily for one week to 10 days and once weeds start growing in it, the medium is ready to grow plants.
 SIZE OF THE CONTAINER:
12”x12”container is ideal size for growing brinjals in a terrace garden – max two seedlings can be grown.
 TYPES OF THE CONTAINERS:
Earthen pots, cement pots, plastic water can, paint buckets, plastic pots, plastic trays (with good depth), grow bags, wooden box, thermocol and tins can be used to grow plants.
 HOW TO PREPARE THE CONTAINER:
Drill 1/4 inch or smaller holes in the bottom of the container and line the bottom with broken pieces to allow the excess water to easily drain from the soil. A plate, tray, drain cells or stand can be kept at the bottom to hold excess water.
 TRANSPLANTING SEEDLINGS:
Fill the container with potting mix 3/4th level. Transplant the seedlings (maximum 2 seedlings in one container), now place the container in a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of sunlight.
 CARING FOR BRINJAL PLANTS:
(a) Watering: It is essential to water the plants judiciously based on the season, growing medium and size of the plant. Container- grown vegetables on the terrace may be irrigated as and when required. If the growing medium is coco peat, you should know that it has high water retention capacity and one-time irrigation of a litre of water is enough in normal weather and upto 2 litres during hot weather. Too much of water flushes valuable nutrients from the container and encourages the growth of mold and mildew, which can harm plant growth.
(b) Weed control: Hand hoeing and regular weeding helps aeration in the root zone and helps the plant grow healthy. Weeds should be removed gently and frequently.
(c) Mulching: Generally wind and sunlight is high in terrace. It will quickly suck the moisture out of the growing medium. Covering the surface of growing medium with organic mulch like dried leaves, straw and coconut husk will help retain moisture in summer.
(d) Staking: Branches heavy with vegetables can easily snap in high wind, so they need to be supported with small sticks – usually around 60th day of planting. We can also use PVC pipes for support.
(e) Additional nutrients to be added: Once in 15 days add cow dung/vermi compost/home compost/PG.
 PEST AND CONTROL:
Mealy bugs, thrips, jassids and small sucking insects can injure the plants, especially during the early stages of their growth. Inspect the stems and leaves regularly for holes, yellow leaves and signs of pest infestation. Pests, if any, can be controlled by spraying 3G extract, neem oil, Panchakavya, leechate once a week.
Brinjals should be harvested while they are still tender. Skin should be glossy and thin. You will be able to determine when to begin harvesting the brinjal just by looking at the fruit. When harvesting brinjals treat the fruit gently, as they can bruise easily. Harvesting brinjals includes cutting a short piece of the stem above the calyx (cap) attached to the top of the fruit. Use pruners or a sharp knife or scissors.The life span of the Brinjal plant is about six months.
(a) Since brinjal plants grow tall and plant will produce less number of pods as it ages, it needs pruning.
(b) Cut plants back using pruners or scissors, leaving 6 to 12 inches above the ground.
(c) This will stop the growth for two weeks but new leaves will soon appear at stem joints.
(d) Apply liquid fertilizer at this time to stimulate vigorous growth.
(e) Four weeks after clipping, you should see new flowers and you will be able to re-harvest brinjals.
 COMPANION CROPS:
Egg plant can be considered a rather high maintenance plant. Not only does it require tons of sunlight and consistent watering schedule but they are prone to insect attacks as well. However, there are some companion plants for egg plant that will make the prospect of growing them a little less complicated.
Bush beans, garlic, marigold, peas, pepper, potato, tomato are the companion crops for egg plant.
 HEALTH BENEFITS
Brinjal is a great food for preventing heart diseases, it helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It is high in potassium and helps to lower high blood pleasure. Brinjal is also beneficial for reducing enlargement of spleen which mainly occurs due to Malaria.
 WHERE TO BUY SEEDS?
Seeds can be bought from a fertilizer shop, nursery and online. You can leave the first fruit in your plant to collect seeds for the next season. Care should be taken to buy good quality seeds with good brand from a reliable shop.