Eggplants with Character: Discovering the Thorny Varieties and their Care
Eggplants, those delicious purple vegetables that we enjoy so much in our meals, sometimes surprise us with thorns on their leaves. This phenomenon has puzzled many gardeners, raising questions about its origin and its impact on the plant.
In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the appearance of thorns on eggplants and how they affect the plant. In addition, we will learn about some varieties that are prone to having thorns on their leaves and we will learn how to properly care for them to avoid any damage.
Why do thorns appear on eggplant leaves?
Eggplant is an ancient vegetable crop, and its wild-growing forms are heirs to the spines. These spines play an important role in protecting against caterpillars, which could cause serious damage to the shrubs. Over time, selective breeding sought to increase productivity and improve the eating qualities of the fruits, reducing the level of thorns to facilitate care. However, some modern varieties may still have thorns due to the predominance of genes from the wild growth form.
Spiny scale and how to identify it
The crop thorniness scale helps categorize different varieties based on the presence and abundance of thorns in various parts of the plant. From spineless varieties to those with spines on leaves, calyx, and stem, the scale covers a range of options. It is important to pay attention to the designations indicated in the characteristics of each variety before choosing one for your cultivation.
Care for Eggplants with Thorns
Thorny eggplants can be an interesting addition to your orchard or garden, but they require some specific care to ensure healthy growth and a successful harvest. Here are some tips to properly care for these varieties of eggplant:
- Growing Site Selection: Choose a sunny, well-drained spot to grow your spiny eggplants. Make sure the plants get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Soil preparation: Before planting, enrich the soil with compost or organic matter to improve its structure and nutrient retention. Eggplants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
- Adequate watering: Keep the soil slightly moist, but avoid excess water that can cause waterlogging. Water spiny eggplants regularly, especially during dry periods or hot weather.
- Protection against pests: Although the spines on the leaves may offer some protection against some pests, it is important to be aware of others. Monitor your plant regularly for signs of pests such as aphids, mites, or slugs, and take appropriate control measures if necessary.
- Nutrition: Provide your spiny eggplants with adequate nutrition during their growth. Use a balanced or specific fertilizer for vegetables and follow the recommended application instructions.
- Support for growth: As the plants grow, you can provide support, such as stakes or cages, to keep the stems upright and prevent them from breaking under the weight of the fruit.
- Pruning: Perform light pruning to remove dead or diseased leaves and branches, which will promote better airflow and reduce the risk of disease.
- Proper harvest: Collect the fruits when they are ripe and of appropriate size. Wear tight-fitting gloves to protect yourself from thorns and handle the eggplants carefully.
Eggplant varieties with thorns
Once we have seen how to care for them, let's get to know some varieties:
- Nutcracker: This early ripening hybrid form produces fruits that are uniformly purple in color and, due to their bitterness, it is recommended to pre-soak them in salted water before cooking.
- Ping pong: This hybrid with white fruits and bushes up to 60-70 cm high has spines on the leaves and the calyx of a moderate shape. It is suitable for indoor growing and has a growing season of 110 days.
- Purple miracle: It is an early maturing hybrid with rare thorns. It is cultivated in open and protected land, and its growing season is 90-100 days, with a yield of 7-8 kg per square meter.
- Hippopotamus: This mid-season hybrid has rare spines on the leaves and produces pear-shaped fruits with dense flesh and no voids. The growing season is 110-112 days.
- Virgin: Early maturing variety with rare thorns and curved oval shaped fruits. It is excellent for conservation and produces a yield of up to 17.3 kg per square meter.
- Universal: A time-tested variety with thorns sometimes present on the leaves. It is medium early and drought resistant, ideal for outdoor and greenhouse cultivation.
Although the presence of spines on eggplant leaves may raise questions and curiosity, they do not affect the productivity or flavor of the plant. By knowing the reasons behind this characteristic, gardeners can properly care for these varieties and obtain a quality harvest. It is essential to take precautions when handling thorny plants, protecting your hands with tight-fitting gloves and enjoying the delicious eggplants these varieties produce. While the exact origin of the thorns may remain a mystery, what is certain is that these eggplants are an interesting and tasty addition to any garden.
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