We love eggplants here, but not everyone agrees. It is difficult to grow a plant and cooking can be intimidating. However, once you've learned something about it, you'll find that eggplants are a delicious dish and give your garden a unique character. And after you've learned the needs of the plant, growing eggplants is a breeze!

You can cook so many different things with eggplants, from salad to ratatouille. If you are not a fan of taste, use them as decorative elements in your landscaping or interior garden. These charming plants thrive in raised beds, pots and even upside down! No wonder they are such a revered product.

Eggplants date from at least 300 BC In Southeast Asia, where they had important culinary and medical purposes. In China in the 5th century, dyes and various recipes were made from it. Eggplants have also become a sought-after dish in many European cultures, although Italians originally thought it would drive the eater crazy. In India, eggplant is still referred to as the “king of vegetables”.

Trust us when we say that this distinctive plant will enhance your garden and your meals. It is full of nutrients and provides beautiful colors. It is a great companion plant for tomatoes. Dive in and learn how to start growing eggplants today!

Good products for growing eggplants:

Brief instructions on care

Growing eggplants is a great way to have fresh vegetables on hand. Source: NellieMcS

Common Name (s)Eggplant, aubergine, guinea pumpkin, eggplant, melons, garden egg
Scientific nameSolanum melongena
Days to harvest50-65 days
lightFull sun
Water:Often to maintain even moisture
groundQuickly draining, fertile
fertilizerBalanced; every 2 weeks
PestsFlea beetles, Colorado beetles, tomato hornworm
DiseasesCercospora leaf rot, Phomopsis fruit rot, Verticillium wilted

All about eggplants

Solanum melongena is native to Southeast Asia, especially India, where it is one of the top crops. It is also widespread in the United States and some European countries, where it is an important part of Mediterranean cuisine.

Thanks to its natural climate, this plant can be a perennial in warm weather. However, it is planted annually in climates with cold winters. However, it likes a long growing season, so you have the best chance of success if you start the seeds early.

Eggplant plants reach 3 feet in height and look a bit like small trees. Their sometimes spiky stems grow medium-sized leaves that are colored purple in some varieties. The smooth and shiny eggplants hang down heavily on the stems. These plants also have sagging purple flowers that are almost as showy as the fruits they produce.

It has seeds, so is eggplant a fruit? Yes, but technically it's a berry – even if it doesn't look like it. However, we do not recommend placing it in a fruit basket. In the kitchen, this berry is considered a vegetable due to its texture and taste.

There is actually an amazing variety of eggplants. Their size and shape range from small and round to long, slender fruits. In terms of color, they are not limited to purple. You can find eggplant fruits in the colors white, red, yellow and green. There are even colorful ones!

The name "eggplant" actually comes from varieties like the Japanese white egg, which are only the size, shape and color of eggs. However, other species are less egg-like, such as Turkish orange and colorful falling stars. The classic saturated purple strain you see in stores is called Black Beauty – and it's beautiful! The bottom line is there is an eggplant for every gardener, whether you are growing Japanese eggplants or bitter Thai varieties.

Plant eggplant

Eggplant flowerEggplant flowers are almost as diverse as the fruits that they become. Source: Nostepinne

Planting eggplants directly into the soil is possible, but it is best to give them a head start and plant them indoors 6-10 weeks before the last frost. When planting in the ground, wait until all chances of frost have gone and the temperature is constantly above 50 ° F.

Plant indoors in a seedling tray or peat pots. Bury the eggplant seeds 1/4 inch deep and 1-3 inches apart. Use a heating mat to warm the floor to 80-90 ° F. It takes about 2-3 weeks for the seeds to germinate. In the meantime, opt for a spray bottle instead of a watering can so you don't wash away the seeds.

Once seedlings appear, lower the soil temperature to 70 ° F. About a week before you plan to transplant them outside, harden the seedlings by lowering the temperature to 60 ° F again and reducing watering.

Place your baby eggplants in the ground about 2 feet apart with 3 feet between rows. You may want to protect them from pests and the elements with row covers. However, remember to remove them as soon as the flowers appear or interfere with the wind pollination.

If you have little space, growing eggplants in containers is as easy – if not easier – than the bottom. The plants grow quite large, so you need at least a 5-gallon container. If you want to get really creative, eggplants can also be turned upside down like tomatoes.

Eggplant care

Young black beauty eggplantThe “Black Beauty” eggplant variety is one of the best known. Source: Images

To learn how to grow eggplants, the care needs need to be just right. These botanical berries are picky about temperature and water. So pay close attention to it.

Sun and temperature

Eggplant plants love to be warm. Plant them in full sunlight and away from tall shade plants. These plants are very sensitive to cold. Therefore, plant them only where the temperature is above 50 ° F during the growing season.

The ideal daytime temperature is between 70 and 85 ° F. Warm temperatures above 95 ° F can lead to flower drops and reduced yield. Anything below 70 ° F runs the risk of slowing the growth of the plant.

Water and moisture

Eggplants absorb a lot of water, so keep the soil evenly moist (about 1 to 2 inches per week). Fluctuations between wet and dry soil can affect berry development and damage the skin. In very warm weather, you can set your suction hose to operate with an irrigation timer to ensure regular soil moisture. You can also water several times a day. Fortunately, you can minimize evaporation by applying mulch to the floor. This helps to save moisture.

Humidity is not a big factor in the growth of eggplants. However, they prefer dry conditions over wet ones. Moisture can accelerate the growth of bacteria and affect the spread of pollen.

ground

Since you water frequently, the soil must be well drained. Otherwise it gets wet and the roots drown. Achieve this and fertility by adding compost, peat and humus as needed. For ideal growth, the pH should be between 5.5 and 6.8.

Fertilize

Eggplants on bushesLike most nightshade plants, the foliage has a rich and vibrant green color. Source: Joi

Besides water, fertilizer for eggplants is the best way to let the plants grow vigorously and produce delicious fruits. Before planting, use a soil test kit to determine what nutrients you need to add. Eggplants need a balanced diet with NPK. Choose your fertilizer accordingly. If you can't get the soil tested, a 10-10-10 fertilizer is a good choice. Most tomato products also work wonders when growing eggplants.

Work granular fertilizer into the soil before planting. Once the plants bloom, apply a side dressing at most every two weeks. These plants bring you multiple harvests. So stick to this schedule so that the fruits continue to come.

Pruning / training

Use pruning to your advantage by controlling fruit size. If you cut off excess leaves and all but a few flowers, more energy is directed into the growth of large eggplants. On the other hand, leave the plant alone to get numerous but small eggplants. When growing Japanese eggplants, you can get a high yield by cutting off the top of the plants and instead forcing them to grow outwards.

A stakeout or cage may be required to hold the stem upright. This also improves ventilation and lifts the fruit off the ground, preventing disease. A simple wooden post or tomato cage works well as long as it is over 3 feet high. For piles, place about a centimeter from the base of the plant and tie the stem loosely with a fiber-based tie. Replace the tie as needed as the plant grows.

Propagation

Solanum melongena is usually only propagated by seeds, as they are grown annually. You can save money by saving your own seeds. However, keep in mind that this way you run the risk of passing on diseases to the next generation of plants. The resulting eggplants may also not be of the right type.

You have to sacrifice one or two eggplants to save the seeds. Let the intended fruits ripen completely on the vine before harvesting. The color becomes dull and discolored, while the skin becomes thick and hard. The eggplant must be healthy and free from malformations.

Halve the eggplant after harvesting and scoop out the shabby pulp. Separate the seeds by hand. Make sure all of the pulp is rinsed off and let it dry in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place. Transfer them to an envelope or paper bag in 2-3 days, and store them in a cool place until you are ready to plant them. They remain viable for 4 years, but are best sown as soon as possible.

Harvest and store

A variety of eggplantsThe fruit comes in a number of shapes, sizes and colors. Source: letouj

You have started work and are now ready for a warm plate of local quality. How to harvest and store your yield for the best and most delicious results.

harvest

When eggplants ripen, their taste becomes bitter, the meat becomes tough and the seeds grow. Eventually the whole fruit turns yellow. Our goal is to choose it when the taste and texture are optimal and a good size is achieved.

Pay attention to the skin of the eggplant. It should be thin, shiny, and firm. If you're not sure, cut in slightly and take a look. The meat should be yellow and white and contain no seeds. Note the external appearance and compare it to the other eggplants so you don't have to cut them too often.

If your eggplant tingles, put on some gloves before harvesting. Then take a pair of sharp scissors or scissors and have them with you. Hold a small piece of the stem attached and make a clean cut. Treat the fruits carefully as they can easily get bruised.

If you can, make several small harvests over a couple of weeks instead of all at once. This increases your income in the long term.

storage

You will enjoy your harvest the most if you eat it fresh. Unfortunately, eggplants only keep in the fridge for a week before they lose quality. They also do not freeze well or cannot withstand other preservation methods. The only common way to extend shelf life is to pickle them. There are many simple pickling recipes.

Troubleshooting

Bug damaged eggplantThis plant can be infected by several pests, but often still produces fruit. Source: clifford.rohde

Resistant varieties are a stroke of luck for vegetable gardeners. Unfortunately, these are also prone to problems. Here's what to look out for.

Growing problems

If your eggplants grow without eggplants, you can be fertilize. Nitrogen is great for leaf growth, but too much of it deprives the fruit of energy. If you notice this, cut back the foliage and switch to a low-nitrogen fertilizer (or lay it down entirely).

Flower drops is another potential problem. It is usually caused by a lack of water that pollutes the plant. Prevent this by watering deeply so that the moisture reaches down to the roots. Another cause of the drop of eggplant flowers is the humidity. When the pollen gets wet, it becomes sticky, preventing it from blowing off with the wind. As a result, the flowers are not pollinated. The humidity is difficult to control outdoors. If this is a recurring problem, you should grow your plants indoors.

Remember that eggplants belong to the Solanaceae family (also called nightshades). It is closely related to tomatoes, peppers and tomatoes and shares many growing problems with them. Therefore, avoid planting these species in the same place year after year. Otherwise you will create a ground port for nightshade-loving pests and diseases.

Pests

Flea beetle are small, dark, round and a threat to our beloved eggplant fruits. If you feed on this plant, the leaves will be spotted yellow and brown. After all, flea beetles chew most of the leaf away. Pyrethrin sprays are a fast-acting, organic choice that eliminates both flea beetles and Japanese beetles. Effective options include sticky traps, row covers, and literally vacuuming the flea beetles.

Colorado beetle are actually pretty pretty with their orange and white coloring and the uniform stripes. Despite their fascinating looks, these beetles are pests around eggplants. They feed on the plants and lay orange eggs on the underside of the leaves. If you come across these eggs, crush them before they can hatch. BT and pyrethrin sprays take care of the hungry adult Colorado beetles, as does the row cover.

Tomato hornworms are the epitome of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. These future moths are large, green and voracious for Solanum plants. You can pick them up by hand or use BT or pyrethrin spray like the other pests. They can be prevented by using blankets or diatomaceous earth.

Diseases

Cercospora leaf spot is a mushroom that starts on the bottom of plants and works its way up. Yellow and light brown spots appear that eventually darken and dry out the entire leaf. This mushroom is reinforced by moisture, so only water at the roots and give your plant a support to improve ventilation. Treat the disease with copper fungicide if necessary.

Phomopsis fruit rot will transform your eggplant varieties from beautiful to ghastly. This mushroom shows up as bright, sunken areas on the fruits that grow to consume the whole. You may also notice discolored, falling leaves and stalk cancer. Needless to say, this mushroom is not a pretty sight. Prevent this by keeping the plant dry, using disease-free seeds and immediately destroying infected areas. Use copper fungicide if the fungus gets out of control.

Another mushroom Wilting verticillium colors the leaves yellow, starting at the bottom of the plant. Over time, the leaves curl, turn brown and dry out. This disease can remain in your soil even after the eggplants are gone, so any other plant susceptible to Verticillium is at risk here. Protect your plants and prevent the growth of fungi by using resistant varieties and practicing good crop rotation.

frequently asked Questions

Q: How long does it take to grow an eggplant?

A: These plants grow slowly. Depending on the variety, they usually take 50-65 days to produce their first harvest.

Q: How many eggplants do you get per plant?

A: It depends on the variety and how well you care for your plants. You can usually expect to get 3-12 eggplants.

Q: What should I plant next to eggplants?

A: Plants in the Solanum family, such as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, are good choices because they have the same care needs as eggplants. Legumes like beans or lentils are also excellent companions when planting eggplants.

The green thumbs behind this article:
Rachel Garcia
Juicy fanatic
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime gardener

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