How to Grow Eggplants
Eggplants are a warm season annual that grows best in warm temperature (75°-85°), in full sun, with well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter. Eggplants are sensitive to cold or any kind of frost, so be certain to not set your plants out too early in the spring. Surface sow the seed or lightly cover (¼”) indoors about 8-12 weeks before setting out in the garden. The best soil temperature for germination is 80°-85°. Allow 10-12 days for germination. When young plants are ready to place in the garden, allow 18-24″ between plants and 24-36″ between rows. Eggplants thrive in the summer heat. Be sure to keep the soil moist. Do not over-fertilize, as this will cause plants to develop lots of lovely foliage, but will produce less fruit.
Eggplants are ready to harvest when the skin is shiny and your thumbprint will not make a permanent indention. Use a knife to cut off the fruit – do not twist or break it off as this can cause damage to the rest of the plant. The fruit is over-ripe when the seeds are brown. Keep the ready fruit harvested as this will increase production. Eggplants do not store well, so plan to use as soon as it is picked. At best, they will keep but a few days in cool temperatures.
Saving Eggplant Seeds
Use only the fruit that has waited long past maturity. Fruit will be dull and hard. Cut off the bottom half of the fruit (where most of the seed is) and separate the seed from the flesh. Allow the seed to dry on paper plates. Seeds are viable for 2-5 years if kept cool and dry.
- White Mold
Causes the stems to rot, produces lesions on the fruit, and the whole plant will wilt and die. Increase air circulation and make sure plants are in well-drained soil.
- Colorado Potato Beetle
Humpback-looking grubs, dark orange in color, can be up to ½” long with black spots on each side. Mulch plants with deep straw or plant among green beans. (they don’t like ’em!)
In general, use collars around the stems of plants, use row covers, keep weeds down, and rotate crops every other year to help fight against insects.
- Green Beans
- Sweet bell peppers