The egg plant is another name for this vegetable which comes from tropical climates. It is grown in greenhouses in this country, or it may be grown in a frame from May onwards and even outside in a very sheltered position in the southern counties. The fruits vary in size and shape from roundish to sausage shaped and are usually a very deep purple, but there are white varieties. Botanically it is known as Solanum melongena ovigerum. It makes a small bush 0.6-1m (2-3ft) high and has blue flowers.
Cultivation Sow the seeds in heat, about 65°F (18°C), in January, February or March, using John Innes seed compost. Prick out the seedlings as soon as possible into 6cm (21in) pots and pot on, finally into 18cm (7in) pots using John Innes potting compost. Water well and pinch out the tips to encourage bushiness when the plants are 16cm (6in) high.
Restrict the fruits to four to six per plant and feed the plants with weak liquid manure or a balanced fertilizer at regular intervals. Gather the fruits when slightly soft.