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AUBERGINE (diminutive of Fr. auberge, a variant of alberge,
a kind of peach), or Egg Plant (Solanum melongena, var.
ovigerum), a tender annual widely cultivated in the warmer parts
of the earth, and in France and Italy, for the sake of its fruits,
which are eaten as a vegetable. The seed should be sown early
in February in a warm pit, where the plants are grown till shifted
into 8-in. or 10-in. pots, in well-manured soil. Liquid manure
should be given occasionally while the fruit is swelling; about
four fruits are sufficient for one plant. The French growers
sow them in a brisk heat in December, or early in January,
and in March plant them out four or eight in a hot-bed with a
bottom heat of from 60° to 68°, the sashes being gradually more
widely opened as the season advances, until at about the end of
May they may be taken off. The two main branches which are
allowed are pinched to induce laterals, but when the fruits are
set all young shoots are taken off in order to increase their size.
The best variety is the large purple, which produces oblong
fruit, sometimes reaching 6 or 7 in. in length and 10 or 12 in. in
circumference. The fruit of the ordinary form almost exactly
resembles the egg of the domestic fowl. It is also grown as
an ornamental plant, for covering walls or trellises; especially
the black-fruited kind.
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