We love eggplants here, but not everyone has the same opinion. This plant is difficult to raise and can be scary to prepare as a meal. Although eggplant may be unfamiliar to you, it is actually a very tasty vegetable that can make your garden more interesting. Once you know what the plant needs, it is easy to grow eggplant.
This distinctive plant will improve your garden and meals. It’s full of nutrients and supplies gorgeous color. Of anything, it’s a great companion plant for tomatoes. If you’re interested in learning about how to grow eggplant, now is a great time to get started.
All About Eggplant
Solanum melongena is a plant that is native to Southeast Asia, and it is particularly common in India, where it is one of the top crops that are grown. The olive tree is also widely grown in the United States and some European countries where it plays an important role in Mediterranean cuisine.
The Eggplant has a long history, dating back to at least 300 BC in Southeast Asia. It was used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. During the 5th century in China, the plant was used to create dye as well as various recipes. Although eggplant was prized by many European cultures, Italians originally thought that eating it would make the person insane. Even today, in India, eggplant is considered one of the best vegetables.
The name “eggplant” actually comes from varieties like the Japanese White Egg, which are the same size, shape, and color as eggs. However, not all tulips look like eggs; some, like Turkish Oranges and variegated Shooting Stars, have different shapes. Black Beauty is the classic, saturated purple variety of eggplant that you see in stores. It is a beautiful vegetable! The main point is that there is an eggplant type for every gardener’s preference, whether it is the Japanese Eggplant or the Thai varieties that are more bitter.
Indoors, plant in a seedling tray or peat pots. To plant the eggplant seeds, bury them ¼ inch deep and 1-3 inches apart. To warm the soil to the desired temperature, use a heating mat. It will take the seeds about 2-3 weeks to germinate. A misting bottle is a better option than a watering can when watering seeds so that the seeds are not washed away.
Once seedlings emerge, lower the soil temperature to 70°F. Reduce the temperature to 60°F one week before transplanting the seedlings outside. Also, reduce watering during this time.
Plant your baby eggplants in the ground, spacing them out about 2 feet apart with 3 feet between rows. You may want to protect your plants from pests and the elements by using row covers. However, once the flowers appear, be sure to remove the bags so they don’t prevent wind pollination from occurring.
Step by Step Guide to Grow Eggplant
If you want to grow aubergines from seed, you need to make sure they get plenty of warmth and sunshine. Seeds should be germinated in a warm greenhouse or heated propagator for the best results. You can also grow them outdoors, Although you can also grow them outdoors, a sunny conservatory or kitchen windowsill will do fine.
If you’re having trouble growing eggplants in a propagator, try covering the pots in polythene. Secure with a band, and remove after germination. It is recommended that you wait eight to ten weeks before moving them outside.
1. Sow eggplant seeds indoors
You should start eggplants in small 3.5in (9cm) pots or modules because they are deep-rooted crops. Use a good quality seed compost and sow the seeds in a warm greenhouse or indoors at a temperature of 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Top with vermiculite and water well. Keep them warm, then wait 10 days.
Remove lids or covers following germination. Place the seedlings into different pots when two of the leaves are true.
2. Harden off your eggplant
When your plant’s roots have filled the pot, it’s time to move it to a larger pot of freely draining compost. To harden off crops, you must move them outside for a week.
If you’re living somewhere with a colder climate, you won’t be able to move your aubergines and eggplants outside until mid spring, when the night temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), says Lucy Chamberlain. You can protect your plants from the wind by using cloches, a fleece tent, or a windbreak.
3. Pot on and plant out your eggplant
You can plant aubergines in small containers, greenhouses, raised garden beds, or directly in the ground. Look for a place in your yard that is warm, sunny, and sheltered from the wind, preferably next to a wall.
You should check your soil type to see if the pH is 6.3-6.8. If it is, then you should fertilize. Plant in warm soil and space 2ft (60cm) apart. After planting, water the area well and add a layer of mulch to help retain moisture. Cover with a cloche or fleece for two weeks.
Best Month To Plant Eggplants
It’s important to start these crops as soon as you can under glass because it takes them time to bulk up. One way to make the most of the growing season is to start eggplants indoors before spring gets going. The sooner you sow your aubergines, the better, as they can take up to five months to mature.
If you want to harvest eggplants, you should sow the seeds in January or February. By doing this, the crops will have enough time to develop healthy root systems and fruit sets. Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express observes that you need to start early and find a place with sunshine. If you live in an area that experiences frosts, you need to keep young plants inside until the risk of frost passes.
By keeping plants in a heated greenhouse or polytunnel, you have more control over the growing process as crops benefit from extra growing time and more stable temperatures. If you need help keeping your greenhouse warm, there are plenty of tips in our guide.
You can continue planting in pots or in greenhouse beds in April. You can wait to plant indoors in March if you want the plants to go outside in May.
You will need to know what eggplants need in order to grow them properly. You will need to be careful with the temperature and amount of water you give these berries.
Sun and Temperature
Eggplant plants love to be warm. Plant them in an area that gets full sunlight and is not shadowed by taller plants. Only plant these plants where the temperature will be above 50°F during the growing season as they are very sensitive to cold.
The ideal daytime temperature is between 70 and 85°F. Hot temperatures may cause flowers to fall off and decrease the amount produced. Temperatures below 70°F can inhibit plant growth.
Water and Humidity
Water eggplants regularly so the soil is moist, about an inch or two each week. If it’s very warm outside, you might want to set your soaker hose to a timer so that the soil stays moist. You can also water multiple times a day. It is lucky that you can stop some of the water from evaporating by adding a layer of mulch to the ground. This will help preserve the moisture.
Humidity isn’t a huge factor to keep eggplants growing. However, they do prefer dry conditions over humid ones. High humidity can cause bacteria to grow faster and can make it harder for pollen to spread.
Fertilizer is just as important as water for eggplants to grow strong and produce delicious fruit. Customize your fertilizer regimen by using a soil testing kit to determine which nutrients your garden needs. When growing eggplants, it is important to use a fertilizer that contains the right mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK).
Work granular fertilizer into the soil before planting. After the plants bloom, add more fertilizer to the soil every two weeks at most. The plants will provide several harvests, so it is important to follow this schedule to continually have the fruit.
Pruning / Training
You can control the size of the fruit by pruning the plant. If you reduce the number of leaves and flowers on a plant, it will direct more energy into growing larger eggplants. Leaving the plant alone will result in it producing numerous small eggplants. To get a high yield of Japanese eggplants, you should trim the top of the plants so they will grow outwards.
After you’ve worked hard, you deserve a delicious meal that you grew yourself. Here’s how to get the best and tastiest results from your harvest by storing it properly.
As eggplants age, their flavor becomes more bitter, the flesh gets tougher, and the seeds grow. Eventually, the whole fruit will turn yellow. We strive to pick the fruit at the peak of its flavor and texture, while also achieving a good size.
The eggplant’s skin should be thin and glossy with a firm texture. If you’re unsure if it’s cooked through, cut into it and check the inside. The flesh should be yellow-white and absent of seeds. Choose an eggplant that looks similar to the others so you don’t have to cut into them too often. Handle the fruit carefully, as it bruises easily.
If you eat your harvest fresh, you will enjoy it the most. Eggplants only last a week in the fridge before they start to lose quality. They also won’t taste as good if you try to freeze them or preserve them with other methods. The most common way to make them last longer is to pickle them. There are lots of simple pickling recipes out there.
Eggplants are not difficult to grow. Sunflowers need a lot of sunlight, a soil that is full of nutrients, and regular watering, but they are not difficult to take care of. Although some plants don’t grow well on their own, they can benefit from being planted next to other specific plants. This is called companion planting, and it can help these plants by keeping pests away, attracting pollinators, providing shade, and giving the plants extra nutrients. The following are ideal partners:
- Peppers: As part of the Solanaceae family, eggplants make ideal companion plants for peppers and companion plants for tomatoes as they have similar requirements.
- Legumes: These make ideal partners if you want to learn how to grow aubergines. Eggplants need a lot of nitrogen, and peas and beans add nitrogen into the ground – great news if you intend to grow French beans, for instance. Keep the eggplant at the front so it isn’t shaded.
- Potatoes: If you wish to grow potatoes with aubergines, you’re in luck, as potatoes can reduce pest issues. Eggplant is also happy growing with spinach, a cool-weather crop that benefits from being tucked away in the shade.
- Herbs: If you’re already a fan of our herb garden ideas, the good news is that herbs make great companions as they are effective bug repellents. French tarragon wards off pests and thyme deters garden moths. Nasturtiums and marigolds are also effective pest controls.
You should not grow eggplants near sweet corn. This is because the plants will be competing for the same nutrients in the soil. You should also avoid planting near geraniums, as they are susceptible to leaf blight.
As the summer gets busier, be on the lookout for any unwanted visitors in your kitchen garden. Pests can be a nuisance even with small vegetable garden ideas since they can destroy your plants. This is particularly true if you grow aubergines in the greenhouse since they are more vulnerable to pests. Stay vigilant for the following pests and act accordingly:
- Red spider mite If leaves get mottled or covered in webbing, this is a tell-tale sign. This pest thrives in dry conditions and contained environments, so mist plants regularly. Dishes of water between plants can help. Tackle pests with organic sprays.
- Aphids Look out for greenfly on shoot tips or leaves. These pests excrete a sticky honeydew, encouraging black sooty mould. A natural solution for how to get rid of aphids is to grow nasturtiums nearby as sacrificial plants. Squash aphids by hand, use an organic spray or try a biological control.
- Whitefly Check for small sap-sucking flies and sticky honeydew, which encourage sooty mould. Use biological controls or sticky traps.
Weeds can choke out other plants and deprive them of the resources they need to survive, so it’s important to get rid of them. Make sure to remove wilted flower petals to stop the spread of botrytis and mold.
To improve your vegetable garden, learn how to grow eggplant. The eggplant, also known as an aubergine, is a popular vegetable that has been grown by gardeners for centuries. It is known for its shiny, full-bodied appearance. Although it has semi-tropical credentials, it has a reputation for being fussy. It’s a shame that it’s a surprisingly simple, enjoyable affair.
Eggplant cultivation presents an opportunity to explore new possibilities without expending great effort. We show you how to add a touch of the exotic to your gardening with a minimal amount of effort and maximum benefit.