Growing Eggplant

Botanical Name:

Solanum melongena var. esculentum

Description:

Eggplants are related to tomatoes and potatoes. They are technically not a vegetable, but a fruit-specifically a berry. Eggplants grow on bushes and are from 2 to 12 inches long and dark purple to white in color.

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Planting Time:

Eggplants need a long growing season with warm temperature and warm soil. Seeds should be started indoors at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to your last frost date, or sown outdoors when soil temperatures reach 60ºF and air temperatures stay at 70ºF.

Exposure:

full sun

Soil:

well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 6.7 to 7.2.

Planting:

Seeds should be planted in warm soil (70º to 85ºF is ideas) to a depth of 1/2 inch in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. When true leaves appear, seedlings should be transferred to individual pots (if sown indoors) or thinned to 18 to 24 inches apart. Seeds can be soaked in water or compost tea before planting to speed up germination.

Watering:

Eggplants are somewhat drought tolerant and should not be over watered. Keep soil evenly moist, but not wet. Water regularly when flowers appear and while fruit is developing.

Maintenance:

Plants are heavy feeders and appreciate occasional, light applications of manure, compost tea or fish fertilizer throughout the growing season. If starting with soil heavy in nutrients, fertilize sparingly. Plants can become top heavy so provide supports as necessary.

Harvesting & Storage:

Harvest fruit when their skins turn glossy. Plants taste best when harvested at 1/3 of their mature size. Frequent harvesting will keep plants productive. Eggplants can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Diseases and Pests:

A wide variety of insects find eggplants very appealing, and transplants should be treated with an organic insecticide before planting.

Tips to Success:

The key to growing eggplants successfully is warm soil and warm temperatures.

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