Use these instructions on how to grow eggplant to add this vegetable to your garden this summer.
How to Grow Eggplant
Eggplant is a great thing to grow in your garden if you are looking for a plant that can add some color and be versatile, too. Since eggplant is technically a berry, (yeah, really!), it is actually a fruit you will be growing. Growing eggplant in your garden is fun, so here are some tips for growing, transplanting and caring for your eggplants through harvest.
How to Grow Eggplant from Seed Indoors
It is highly recommended that you start your seeds 8-10 weeks before planting indoors. Eggplant requires a very long growing season of 100-130 days from seed to harvest.
To start your seeds, make sure you have a spot that is sunny and warm to keep them in. Plant 3-4 seeds into the soil of each seedling starter pot. Place them on a gardener’s heating pad and water well. You will need to keep your soil at least 70 degrees, but ideally it should be 85. You will see seedlings in about 2 weeks.
For more information on how to start eggplant seeds indoors, check out this post.
How to Grow Eggplant from Seed Outdoors
If you are lucky enough to live in an area that is warm enough by the beginning of April (55 degrees minimal at night and soil that is 70 degrees), you can start seeds outdoors. Make sure to prepare the soil with enough fertilizer and space them about 2 feet apart.
For more information on starting eggplant seeds outdoors, check out this post.
How to Transplant Eggplant Seedlings
Take your eggplant through a hardening process in order to get them ready to thrive outdoors. This is a simple process that involves leaving them outside for longer periods of time until you leave them overnight. Please note, eggplant needs at least 55 degrees at night in order to be ok for leaving it there.
Get your soil ready and add fertilizer and place black plastic over it to get it as warm as possible.
Plant your seedlings into the ground and cover with soil to the leaves. Water well and place mulch near the bottom.
For more in-depth information on transplanting eggplant seedlings, check out this post.
Eggplant Pests and Care
Common pests for eggplant include flea beetles and powdery mildew.
Flea Beetles can be prevented by putting talcum powder onto your leaves directly. Do this early as this is when flea beetles will likely cause damage as they don’t tend to favor adult plant leaves as much.
Powdery mildew is best prevented by making sure to plant in very sunny spots in the first place. It can also be prevented from spreading if you cut off the leaves infected with it. Keep in mind as well, that it often infects young leaves, too.
To give your eggplants the best chance, try to provide lots of support for them as they will fall over when the fruits become too large.
How to Harvest Eggplants
If you can, harvest early and often to give the other fruits a better chance at getting bigger. Plus, harvesting early allows for the best flavor. You will know when it is time to harvest when the skin is all the same color and looks glossy in appearance.
Cut the fruit off with a sharp knife. Do not attempt to pull as this will damage the plant and hurt the remaining fruit’s chances. It also won’t work since these plants are well attached.