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Plant Eggplants for a Bountiful Harvest

Updated on January 19, 2023
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Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen books and a long-time gardener.

Eggplants Relation to Tomatoes Key to Growing Them

Eggplants (aubergine) are typically large, purple, and pear-shaped, but eggplants varieties can produce fruit that is glossy black, green, yellow, and even white. As annual, eggplant requires 100-150 frost-free days, so it is not often grown in the north. if you have a long enough season, and you can grow tomatoes, you can grow this relative of the tomato.

At A Glance: Growing Eggplant

Plant plants (not seeds) after all danger of frost has passed.

Planting Depth: Seeds in pots planted 1/4 inch deep. Plant eggplants at the same depth as the pot in which it was grown.

Germination: 8-10 days

Distance of plants from one another in the garden: 2 1/2 feet apart.

Grow eggplants in raised beds which heat up fast in the spring.

Time required in the garden: 100-150 frost-free days

Planting Eggplants

Because this plant requires a long warm growing season, in most parts of the country, either you will need to buy plants from a nursery or plant them indoors six to nine weeks before the average last frost date. The night before planting, soak seeds overnight to encourage germination. Sow the seeds one-fourth inch deep in pots filled with loose and fine potting soil. Maintain bottom heat to 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to ten days before germination. Maintain a grow light above the plants to keep them from becoming "leggy". When outside temperatures are above fifty degrees at night, begin hardening them to ready them for planting outdoors. If plants become too large for the initial pot that they grew in, transplant them into larger pots until both the air and soil warm up to at least 70 degrees.

Plant eggplant seedlings in raised beds to promote rapid soil warm-up or keep eggplants in large container gardens. (Five-gallon buckets with holes drilled in the bottom are a good container size for this plant.) In the garden, plant them about 3 feet apart in every direction. Water the planting hole well, and sprinkle kelp powder into the planting hole before planting the eggplant. Plant the eggplant to the same depth as the pot in which the eggplant was planted. Water again, dust again with kelp powder, and side dress with compost. Then, cover the compost immediately with mulch.

Growing Eggplant Plants

Interplant an early crop, such as lettuce or bush green beans (bush green beans provide an added benefit in that they repel the Colorado potato beetle) between eggplants. When the eggplants bloom, apply more compost. Maintain an inch to an inch and a half of water a week either from rain or irrigation. Keep most weeds out to prevent competition for nutrients, however, by allowing a couple of redroot pigweed to grow in the bed with the eggplant.

The worst pest problem in eggplant is the flea beetle. To prevent this problem, keep the eggplants indoors until early summer or cover them with a floating row cover.

Another pest is the yellow and black-striped Colorado potato beetle actually prefers eggplants to their potato relative. Handpick these beetles and their yellow eggs from the underside of plant leaves.

Handpick tomato hornworms as well, or you can sprinkle dry cayenne on the eggplants when the morning dew is still on the leaves of the eggplants. Do not however remove those covered with tiny white cocoons however because these contain parasitic offspring of the beneficial braconid wasp.

Prevent disease by not planting eggplants or their relatives like tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes the year prior or the year after in this same location.

Eggplant Harvest

To harvest eggplants, pick when eggplant skins have a high gloss. To test maturity, press the skin. If the indentation does not spring back, the eggplant is ready to harvest. When the seeds have turned brown, the eggplant is past its prime. Best to throw the eggplant away either to animal herbivores or the compost pile. Eggplants can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Serving Eggplant

  • Add eggplant when stirfrying
  • Slice thick slices of eggplant and brush with olive oil and grill on a hot outdoor grill, after turning the eggplant, melt a slice of provolone over each slice.
  • Use eggplant in place of lasagna noodles in lasagna
  • Cook eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes together with Italian seasonings to add to pasta.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Cygnet Brown


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