Growing eggplant is an easy task in regions where summers are long-lasting and warm. On the other hand, where summers are short, sorts that mature fast and produce medium to small fruits may easily be grown in pots.
As easy as you grow peppers, you can also grow eggplant. The fruits may be purple-black, white, or all shades in between – some varieties even bear orange or green fruits.
Eggplant needs lots of suns and prefers slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Eggplants are heavy feeders, preferring fertilizing when you plant them and once a month until the season ends.
They want at least an inch of water per week. So if we do not get enough rain any week, they need more water to thrive.
Mulching can help to preserve moisture and reduce some of the need for watering. Pick eggplant as soon as they get to the appropriate size and the outer flesh is a little soft.
Types to Try
Eggplant sorts vary in size, shape, color, growing habit, and even maturation. From oval to oblong eggplants, create large, oval-shaped, purple-black eggplants you can find in most supermarkets.
Most of the Growing eggplant varieties work best in warm climate regions. Japanese eggplants mature quicker compared to oval eggplants, producing multiple long, slim fruits.
Little-fruited eggplants are the best variety for tight spaces. Certain types produce the crop in appealing clusters, green, white, lavender, or purple.
Oddity eggplants include unusual varieties worldwide, such as orange Turkish eggplant, green Thai eggplant, or egg-shaped white eggplant.
When to Plant
Start seeds inside about six weeks before last spring frost, or about 14 days after peppers and tomatoes. Eggplant seeds sprout best at temperatures exceeding 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bottom warmth helps start the plants up and growing. Hold these members of the nightshade group growing under intense fluorescent lights for 14 to 16 hours per day, and relocate them to 4-inch pots when they sprout three leaves.
Transfer plants outside on sunny days, but bring them back indoors once temperatures fall under 55 degrees of Fahrenheit.
Arrange hardened-off plants when they are about two months old. When preparing your garden, grant one plant pro person, as a healthy plant will produce around 5 pounds of eggplant in two months or more.
How to Plant and Growing eggplant
Choose a sunny, well-drained site with fèrtile soil (pH between 5.5 and 6.5). To decrease pest issues, select a spot where nightshade group members (eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes) have not been cultivated for a minimum of two years.
Two weeks before planting, slacken the planting bed and blend in a 2-inch layer of rich compost together with a regular application of balanced natural fertilizer or composted poultry manure and water adequately.
In cold climate regions, top the arranged bed with dark plastic film to facilitate warming the soil. Provide 24 inches among plants and plan in advance for stakes or another kind of supports.
In most regions, you will have to cover newly transplanted eggplants with row covers to exclude flea beedes and other pests. However, when plants are about 14 inches tall, they are hard enough to fend for themselves, and at this height, you can take off covers to admit pollinators.
Another way to keep pesky flea beedes at bay is to grow eggplant in containers. Compact varieties do especially good in pots.
Hold your eggplants on an outdoor table to keep them out of range of ground-dwelling flea beedes.
Plants yield best in 16-inch-wide pots or planters. Dark-colored containers help gather heat in cold climates.
Cultivating eggplant in pots needs fertilizing as often as required to keep steady growth and perfect leaf color. Plants that have to be watered often also need to be fed more frequently.
Harvesting and Storage
Start harvesting eggplant once the fruits get full size and, when pressing firmly, gives a thumbprint that bounces back rapidly. Under-ripe eggplants are too stiff to accept a thumbprint, and overripe, on the other hand, are so soft that a thumbprint test leaves a persistent mark.
Eggplant skins should be delicate and shiny. Use trimming shears to harvest eggplants with their cap (calyx) whole. Storing eggplant is easy – keep dead fruit at cool room temperature or in the frig for not more than three days before cooking or preserving.
Eggplants are self-productive, so keeping seeds from open-pollinated varieties is easy if different types are cultivated at least 50 feet away. Select a solid plant from close to the center of the planting and harvest only die first two fruits.
Allow dying following two fruits to thrive until they get leathery with age and turn yellowish-brown. Meantime, clip off most of the new flowers produced by the dying plant to direct its energy into dying ripening seeds. To eliminate the ripe seeds, cut off the bottom end of die fruit and pick out thii seeds.
Or, rip the pulp into spongy bits and put them in a jug with water. Squash the pulp like a sponge till giant seeds shift to the bottom. Dry the seeds at average room temperature for about 14 days. With good storage conditions, eggplant seeds will remain viable for five years.
Pest and Disease Prevention Tips
Flea beedes frequently chew small holes in eggplant leaves which seriously weakens young plants. Growing eggplant in containers keeps the ground-dwelling beedes at bay.
Gardeners may also use row covers to protect the young plants until they start to bloom.
Colorado potato Beede larvae devour eggplant leaves.
Pick the yellow and black adults and the soft-bodied, red, or gray larvae and drown them in soapy water.
Verticillium wilt kills more eggplants than any other disease. Ensure good drainage and warm soil to discourage this soilborne fungus, which causes plants to wilt and eventually collapse, often with yellowing between the leaf veins.
Genetic resistance is not available. Pull up plants that wilt and then collapse, and fill the empty planting hole with compost.
Sunscald occurs when leaf cover is insufficient to screen plants from the intense sun. Fruits with brown patches of sunscald are edible but may ripen unevenly.
Growing Eggplant Tips
- Wait for warmer weather to plant young eggplants, which will not grow until ground temperatures rise above 60 degrees.
- Water profoundly – provide 1 to 2 inches of water weekly after plants are producing fruit.
- Admit the soil to dry somewhat between waterings to ward off verticillium wilt.
- Midseason fertilization maintains eggplant productivity till cool fall weather curbs their growth.
- Eggplant needs no pruning beyond eliminating old, withered leaves. As the plants get tall, numerous side shoots will form along with the plants’ main stem. These side shoots will hold flowers and fruits later in the season.
- In long-season zones, eggplants can be topped back by half their size in midsummer to stimulate the growth of new fruit-bearing branches.
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