Learning Download: How to Grow Eggplant
From Seed to Harvest: A guide to growing eggplants.
Eggplant is a nutritious fruit used in italian Asian and Indian dishes, and it also serves as a substitute for meat in dishes like eggplant lasagna and eggplant parmesan. In addition to the common slender, long, deep purple eggplant, there are many varieties including colors of white, orange, light purple and various shapes. Eggplant has a texture similar to squash.
Start eggplant seeds indoors up to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Plant the seeds 1/4inch deep, water after planting and cover loosely with plastic to retain moisture. Transplant the seedlings to the garden when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees. Leave up to 24 inches between plants in rows set 2 to 3 feet apart.
Eggplants do best in rich, well-drained soil. Mulch can help eggplants boost their growth in the spring, and adding a light-colored straw-like mulch in the summer helps reduce heat build-up. Eggplants prefer a soil pH of 6.5 and 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Eggplants are ready to harvest as soon as 70 days after sowing the seeds. Harvest fruits with skin that is glossy and thin. Eggplants can be harvested when they are small, though growing them longer allows for a larger harvest. Harvestable fruits should be firm and inside seeds should not be visible once cut open. The inside flesh of the eggplant should be cream colored.
To harvest, beware of the eggplant’s prickly stem. The fruit bruises easily, so be gentle while harvesting. Use prunes or a sharp knife to cut the fruit from the plant, but be sure to keep a short piece of stem on the fruit. Harvesting eggplant frequently encourages more growth.
What eggplant craves:
Though eggplant is a relatively simple plant to grow, they are heavy feeders. The addition of fertilizer can better the plant. Prior to planting outdoors, mix 2 to 3 inches of well-rotted manure into the soil. If manure is not available, opt for a 10-10-10 fertilizer instead. Mix the manure or fertilizer at least 6 inches into the soil to provide fertilization to the eggplants roots as they grow. Once fruits begin to appear on the plant, spread a 10-20-20 fertilizer or 10-30-10 fertilizer up to 8 inches around the plant.
Where to buy eggplant seeds:
You can find many different shapes and colors of eggplant seeds at Urban Farmer.