What to Plant: Seed, Transplants
Dates: See Vegetable Planting Calendars
Nutrition: B1, B6, Copper, Manganese, Nasunin (potent free-radical scavenger)
Seed Viability: 4 years
Soil Temp: 60º F – 95º F (85º F)
Planting Depth: 1/2"
Germination: 7 - 12 days
Spacing: 18" - 24"
SqFt Spacing: 1 per sq
Days to Harvest: 60 - 80 days from transplant, 18 - 19 weeks from seed
Length of Harvest: 7 - 12 fruits per plant, depending on variety
Origin: India, Bangladesh
Bed prep: Prepare beds by adding compost at 1/3 of volume and SROF at ½ cup per square foot. Mix well by spading.
Planting: Like some fellow members of the Solanaceae family, eggplant has a long growing season from seed to harvest making it best to start the seed indoors prior to the last frost. Plant seed 1/2" deep directly into 4" pots of seed starting mix. Keep moist until germination. Set transplants out after all danger of frost has passed. Eggplants are sun lovers that do NOT like cold nights. Set transplants the same depth as their 4" container and water in with Superthrive after planting.
Watering: Once a week without sufficient rainfall in the spring, and twice a week during summer. Eggplants do not like soggy soils, but if they are consistently allowed to dry out the fruits will be small and bitter. Keep evenly moist when fruit is developing.
Aftercare: Keep bed free of weeds – mulch. Watch for disease or pests. Eggplants can become top heavy when they are carrying a load of ripening fruits. Stake the plant or use a tomato-pepper cage. Eggplants are heavy feeders. In addition to the fertilizer provided during bed prep, you can water with fish emulsion or Ocean Harvest every two weeks.
Harvest: Eggplant fruits are ready to harvest when they become glossy. Do not allow them to turn from glossy to dull again or the quality will be greatly reduced. Eggplant texture and flavor are often best when the fruits are 2/3 of their expected full size.
Pests: Flea beetles are a common pest of eggplants. They will leave tiny holes in the leaves. Insecticidal soap is sufficient to eliminate flea beetle. They seldom create enough damage to affect the harvest, so it is not really necessary to take action unless the damage bothers you. Spider mites will bother eggplants that are not well watered during the summer.
Additional Information: Eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes are all related and can share soil borne diseases. Eggplant should not be grown in the same location as tomatoes or peppers for at least 3 - 4 years. If this interrupts your rotation plans, or if you have had trouble with verticillium wilt in the past, grow eggplant in 5 gallon containers in fresh soil each year. You can amend this soil with up to 1/2 compost by volume. Blend 1 cup of SROF into the potting soil before planting. Eggplants grown in containers benefit from being watered with dilute fish emulsion with every watering in addition to the fertilizer.
History: Eggplant was developed from a wild nightshade indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. It is thought to have been grown in cultivation in Asia from pre-history because an early notation was made in Chinese agricultural surveys in 544 A.D. It was introduced throughout the Mediterranean by Arab tribes in the Middle Ages. In 1597 an English botanist wrote that it did not ripen fruits in the short season of London gardens.