Eggplants are delicious vegetables that anyone can grow on their own by following the proper steps. Growing eggplant requires warm climate conditions, proper space between neighboring crops and waiting for the right time to harvest. Although there are a variety of eggplant types to choose from, most of the growing time and planting requirements are the same. Start by growing the seeds inside your home in a small greenhouse or a warm, well lit space. Transplant the growing eggplants out into your garden for maximum results.
These plants grow out of the ground and are not staked. Warm soil and temperatures over 68 degrees are needed, but temperatures over 80 degrees are ideal. Plants should be exposed to full sunlight. Purchase seeds from a nursery or seed catalog rather than already grown. This way, you can time exactly how long the seeds have been growing and precisely when to transplant them into your outside garden. Start growing your plants inside for approximately 8 weeks. Make sure that the soil outside is at a similar temperature to the soil used inside or the plant will take much longer to adjust and grow. Only transfer the growing seeds when there is no longer a threat of frost on the ground.
It is important to find the proper amount of space in your garden for eggplants. These plants also require water reaching deep into the roots. Younger plants should be watered at least twice a week. Use a mist from a spray bottle rather than a hose for distribution control and to avoid soaking. As the plants mature, water them less frequently but make sure the water penetrates deep into the soil reaching all roots. Roots typical extend into the ground around 12 inches. Neighboring plants run the risk of overwatering, so distance them by a few feet. Space your eggplants 2 feet from each other with a distance of 3 feet between each neighboring row. You can group your eggplants in the same bed as peppers due to their similar growing patterns.
Parasitic insects are a common problem with outdoor gardens. Eggplants attract flea beetles, which are tiny insect pests that destroy crops. Since they are dark colored and around the size of a pin head, they are difficult to spot. These insects start by nibbling holes into the leaves before making their way to the eggplant. Spray crops with an organic pesticide to keep the beetles at bay.
Do not allow eggplants to become overripe. Pick them when they are between 6 to 8 inches long and the deep purple skin turns glossy. If the skin has become dull, they have gone past their prime and are now full of seeds. Use precaution when cutting, as some eggplant varieties have stems covered in small thorns. Depending on the variety, most eggplants take between 60 to 80 days to grow before harvesting. After harvesting, eggplants can be stored in cool, moist conditions for up to 1 week.
By starting your eggplants indoors, transferring to a spacious, warm and sun-drenched garden with frequent watering, your plants will thrive and produce tasty veggies. Enjoy your crops in a variety of recipes such as parmesan, baba ganoush and rollatini.