Eggplant is one of those “sometimes” types of crops in many colder gardens. While it is easy to start the plants, there are a few things to consider in growing and obtaining the fruit.
When to Plant
If you want to see eggplant in your garden, plan on either purchasing started plants or to get the variety you want, start them yourself. Sow seeds in the middle of March for a late May outdoor transplant date.
Do not consider direct sowing as this will not work in most parts of the country even in good years; this is a heat-loving plant.
Where to Plant
In full sun, in your warmest and best-soil section of the garden, out of wind and other cooling influences.
How to Plant
This is a plant you’ll want to start indoors.
- Plant the seed .6 cm deep and no deeper. Keep the soil a minimum of 22C (26C is better) if you want to see germination.
- Water with lukewarm water. The seed will germinate irregularly, you’ll see several seeds a day over a period of a week.
- Once the seedlings have reached the two to four leaf stage, they can be transplanted into individual pots and grown on at air temperatures in the low 20’sC.
- While some seedlings do not mind being transplanted at a slightly lower depth (tomatoes thrive on it) always transplant eggplant at the same depth as they were in the seedling flat.
- Try to keep the plant growing strongly with high light levels, warm water, lack of cold drafts, regular feeding and adequate spacing. Any check in growth will cause lower yields in the garden. You really want to avoid letting these plants go below 18C when you’re growing them.
Care & Maintenance
Transplant outdoors after all danger of frost, after the ground has warmed up and night time temperatures will not fall below 10C .
Cool nights mean that the flowers will fall off and you won’t get a harvest.
Do not disturb the roots when you transplant or you’ll have unhappy eggplants. These plants are a little finicky in their requirements so if you’re having problems getting them to bear fruit, the above reasons are the main problems faced by gardeners.
You might want to pinch off or carefully support any fruit that are touching the ground as they will tend to rot.
But if that’s all the fruit you have – don’t pinch expecting more. Expect to get 4 or 5 fruit per plant and you can harvest them as soon as they get to one-third their mature size onwards.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm