Tips For Growing Eggplant

Tips on growing and harvesting an abundant and delicious crop of eggplants!

Growing your own eggplant can be a very rewarding experience. You'll reap the benefits of this wonderful vegetable since it is both easy to grow and can be tastefully prepared in a number of ways! There are several types of eggplants ranging from the ever-popular Black Beauty eggplant to the white-fleshed varieties such as Ghostbuster, Santana, and White Italian. Regardless of the type of eggplant you choose to grow, here are some "tried and true" tips to help you grow a crop of the season's best eggplant produce.

Tip #1: Prepare the soil: Eggplant favors a well-drained soil in a very sunny spot. So select an area in your garden that receives full exposure to the sun and remove any large rocks or debris from the soil before planting.

Tip #2: Decide on transplants or grow from seeds: Depending on how green your thumb is, you can either purchase seedlings and transplant them or attempt to grow your own seedlings. Whatever the choice, you can still grow delicious vegetables. Growing from seed may require more time. So, begin by planting indoors and allow four to six weeks of plant growth before you transplant the seedlings to the outdoor garden. For best results, be sure to plant seedlings at least a half-inch deep in moist (but not overly-wet) soil during the germination period; and supply lots of artificial or natural sunlight while maintaining a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you decide to purchase transplants, be sure to buy plants containing dark green and fully opened leaves. These indicate the plant is hearty and healthy. Don't buy blooming plants as they may weaken when transplanted.

Tip #3: Plant in full sun: Keep in mind that eggplants are warm weather and sun-loving crops. Begin planting only when the danger of frost is past in your area or when the temperature warms up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Then select a sunny garden spot (preferably in full sun with little or no shade) and space your plants two to three feet apart in rows. This will allow for more abundant and rich crops.

Tip #4: Feed your eggplants: To grow truly great eggplants be sure to feed them with a potassium rich fertilizer. For optimal feeding, begin by pouring a cup of starter fertilizer around your new transplants. Then, follow up with a ΒΌ cup of vegetable fertilizer around the plant base immediately after flowering. While you want your eggplants to be well fed, avoid over fertilizing them.

Tip #5: Keep eggplants moist: Eggplants need lots of moisture to grow well. At least one inch of water each week is necessary. More may be needed in drier climates. Mulching is also recommended to prevent water loss from the soil.

Tip #6: Beware of pests eating your eggplant: Just as much as eggplants can be a delicacy for humans, so too do insects and other pests enjoy this vegetable. If you notice your plants being bothered by these pests, consider spraying leaves with a safe, organic, insect spray.

Tip #7: The ideal times to harvest eggplants are when they reach about 5 to 6 inches in length. A "ready to pick" eggplant is usually glossy in color. Dull-looking, spongy eggplants are often over mature vegetables and may contain dark, hard seeds resulting in a less tasty crop. The best way to actually pick an eggplant is to clip the plant from its stalk with a knife or scissor. Avoid pulling the eggplant off as this may damage the plant. Freshly picked eggplants may be put in plastic bags and stored in a cold refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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