Gardeners in warm regions rejoice! Although difficult to grow in cooler regions, eggplant thrives in warm weather. Learn how to grow eggplant and add this beautiful fruit (yes, eggplant is a fruit) to your garden and table.
Discover below 8 secrets to know for growing aubergines:
1. Choose the best place to grow eggplants
The aubergine will prefer a very sunny position with well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
It’s important to alternate where you plant eggplants and other members of the nightshade family (such as potatoes and tomatoes) to help prevent and avoid soil-borne pests and diseases. Wait at least 2 years between plantings of familiar nightshade crops.
If pests or diseases have been a problem in the past, try growing eggplants in containers instead. Eggplant grows very well when grown in large pots.
2. Choose an eggplant variety that suits your needs
Eggplant varieties differ in size, shape, color and ripening time.
Globe eggplants or American eggplants have large, oval, traditional purple or white fruits. They produce better in warmer climates.
Japanese eggplants have long, thin fruits that ripen quickly, making them a good choice for cooler areas.
Small-fruited eggplants (like Indiana and Favola) are more compact and are perfect for small spaces or containers.
There are many varieties to have fun with shapes and colors.
3. Start sowing eggplants indoors from seed or purchase grafted seedlings
Eggplant performs best when planted outdoors from transplants rather than from seeds. Start eggplant seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days. Eggplant seeds last up to 4 years. Eggplant seeds are available on many sites on the Internet.
Because eggplant is susceptible to transplant shock, start the seeds in larger 3-inch containers and harden off the plants before planting them in the garden.
4. Plant eggplants at the right time
Eggplant prefers warm weather, so don’t plant them until temperatures have warmed in spring. Transplant eggplant seedlings into the garden when the soil is at least 21°C (the best way to check soil temperatures is with a soil thermometer), with daytime temperatures at or above 21°C and nighttime temperatures above 10°C .
Space the plants 45 to 60 cm apart.
5. Care for plants throughout the season
Give the eggplant a steady supply of moisture, but don’t let the soil get soggy. If the eggplant is not watered enough, the fruit will be small and bitter.
Eggplant also needs food to produce well. Feed the plant at least once a month with fish emulsion or compost tea.
The aubergine is self-fertile but benefits greatly from bee pollination.
Remove wilted leaves and plant stakes or trellis as needed if you see the plant bending.
6. Watch out for pests
Flea beetles, aphids and potato beetles are common pests of eggplants. Use row covers to discourage them until the plants are large enough to sustain a little damage. If pests are persistent, leave row covers during harvest time.