How to Grow Eggplant


  Black Beauty Eggplant
   
Eggplants need a light, loamy soil that is deeply prepared with lots of compost. Heavy clay soil will slow the early stages of growth. Additions of manure, compost, rock phosphate, kelp and lime will help meet this plant's nutrient needs.

Eggplants are a tender crop much like peppers, so seedlings should not be set in the ground until nighttime temperatures are hovering near 70° F. If you are starting from seed, allow 6-8 weeks for the plants to be garden ready, calculating your seed sowing date back from your target planting date. If you plant early and the nights are still not warm, use some protective covering for cold protection. If you are in an area with cool summer nights consider covering your plants at night to protect from cold damage and to encourage a good yield.

When planting, allow 24" between plants and 3' between rows. Mulch closely around the stem when they reach 12-16" tall. Your plants may be staked to encourage nicely shaped fruit, but this is not essential. Adequate water is essential for a good yield.

Eggplants should be harvested when the skin is taut and has a glossy sheen. Fruit that has been allowed to stay on the plant too long will appear dull in comparison. If you slice one and the seeds are turning brown, you have picked it past its prime. To harvest, clip stems with shears or cut with a sharp knife. Do not try to break off fruits or you may damage the main stem of the plant.


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