Growing eggplant is a must if you love outdoor barbecues! These stately plants grow well and look beautiful in containers, ornate borders, raised beds, and traditional landscaped gardens. Varieties with small fruits tend to be particularly heavy carriers, and you can expect to pick a dozen or more of each Ichipan during summer in warm climates. Larger varieties like Black Beauty and White, which bear more traditional size fruits, are equally impressive in either the garden or the kitchen, as they can be stuffed, grilled, or combined with summer herbs and tomatoes in homemade eggplant parmesan. Whatever type of eggplant you prefer, be sure to pick the strong little Bonnie Plants to get off to a good start.
A quick guide to growing eggplant
- Plant eggplants when the soil temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and all chances of frost are gone.
- Place the eggplant at a distance of 24 to 36 inches and pinch it once to prevent it from falling. Choose an area with abundant sunlight and fertile, well-drained soil.
- Improve your original soil by mixing several inches of old or other rich organic matter.
- Keep the soil moist but not soggy – soaker hoses are a great option.
- Keep your plants nourished by feeding them regularly with continuous releasing plant food.
- Apply a layer of mulch made of organic matter, such as leaves or smooth bark, once the plants reach 6 inches in height.
- Harvest the eggplant when the fruits have stopped growing and their skin is shiny. Remove the ripe fruit with gardening shears, leaving only a small portion of the stem attached.
Soil, planting and care
Eggplant loves warmth and grows best in very sunny, dry places. Raised beds filled with 100 percent Miracle-Gro® raised organic soil (which is the right weight and texture for optimal root growth) or in soil generously fertilized with compost or old manure enriched with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics ® All Purpose in the ground is ideal . When growing in pots, fill them with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics ® All Purpose Container Mix, which also contains a nutrient-packed compost.
Although its coarse, leathery leaves endure hot weather in heroic fashion, eggplant makes use of large mulch from straw, shredded leaves, or other biodegradable material beneath the plants to keep soil relatively cool, to retain moisture, and to keep weeds at bay. Since eggplants really need warm soil to grow well, gardeners in cool climates often grow the plants best in large, dark containers. On a sunny day, soil temperatures inside the black pots may be 10 or more degrees higher than the soil temperatures in the ground. Row covers are also a good choice in colder climates, or even to protect plants from cold spells in warm climates. Open the ends of the row covers on warm days to allow the bees access to the flowers to help with pollination.
Eggplant grows into tall angled plants, so they should be spaced 24 to 36 inches apart. Improve planting holes by mixing two inches of compost to help retain moisture and compost in the soil. Place the plants at the same depth as they grow in their containers, and water them well before mulching. To help keep plants strong and well-nourished, fertilize them regularly with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® Edibles Botanical Nutrition Granules, following label directions. Combining great soil with excellent plant foods is a surefire way to achieve lots of success in growing eggplant.
In the event of a late cold snap, you may need to delay planting seedlings until the cold weather has passed. If this occurs, keep plants in a sunny, sheltered location outdoors during the day, and bring them indoors at night.
Make sure to keep the plants watered, or else they will be young and bitter. They need a gentle, steady supply of moisture but not so much that the soil is damp. Drip or soaker hose systems are ideal.
Eggplants are prone to falling off when loaded with fruits, so you may want to tie the plants to stakes to keep them upright. If you push a stake into the ground an inch or two from the plant at planting time, you won’t be bothered by trying to do so later. You can also use baby tomato cages to support the plants.
find the mistakes and resolve it
The small black flea beetle is eggplant’s worst enemy, but large, healthy plants usually do well despite the small leaf holes that many flea beetles cause. In some areas, common soil-borne fungi can cause capillary wilt, young plants to wilt and die. When eggplant is a common problem with irresistible tomatoes (they are the eggplant’s close cousins), plant the eggplant in containers filled with an excellent potted mix.
Harvest and Storage
Fruits can taste bitter if picked when they are unripe or overripe, so harvesting is part of the art of eggplant farming. The ideal fruit will stop growing larger, have a glossy rind, and appear to be sprinkled with smooth, well-formed but unripe seeds when sliced. Fruits without visible seeds are immature, and dark, hard seeds are found in ripe eggplant. Use the pruning shears to harvest the fruit with a short stem tied, as the fruits will not be pulled by hand. Rinse, clean, pat dry, and store in the refrigerator for several days. The eggplant will change color quickly when opened, so work quickly when preparing slices or skewers for grilling. Dressings containing salt, vinegar, and / or lemon juice will prevent the cut pieces from darkening.