The Eggplant Garden
Eggplant has been known to be a main ingredient in many favorite dishes. It’s available in the large purple bulbs found in produce markets. The smaller purple variety is known as “designer” eggplants, and the white globe-shaped variety are called Italian eggplants. There is a slight difference in the flavors of these. The white Italian eggplant is somewhat sweeter than the large purple and designer varieties. Eggplant is easy to grow. It grows best in warmer temperatures and long growing seasons. Eggplant thrives best in full sun for up to eight hours.
How to Grow Eggplant
To grow eggplant, start by turning the soil with lime where the eggplant will be planted. Choose a very sunny garden spot. Eggplant thrives in full sun. Eggplant needs soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8. To elevate pH to grow eggplant, add manure when turning the soil. Eggplant is another vegetable that can be started indoors in late winter. This will give seedlings a head start when it’s time to transplant. Transplant two weeks after the last frost when the soil is no longer cold. Planting in warmer soil helps avoid transplanting shock that can occur with eggplant and many other vegetables. A soil temperature of at least 60 degrees is advisable. Dig a hole for each seedling to be planted. Space about two feet apart. The hole in the soil should be deep enough to provide a measure of support for the stem of the plant. It’s recommended to add potting soil and compost or manure to the base of the hole before adding the seedling.
Each week, give the eggplant at least one inch of water. In the early stages of growth take precautions to protect plants from wind and/or sudden cold snaps. Use a lightweight tarp for this. Invest in plant cages and insert the wide circular end into the soil around the plant. This will keep animals from making a feast of tender eggplants and provide substantial support to the stem.
Eggplant seedlings will blossom in about 15 to 30 days from the time of transplanting, longer if temperatures remain cooler than normal. From these blossoms, the familiar purple bulbs will begin to sprout. When eggplants begin to grow to near maturity, use planting poles and ties to help keep the bulbs from breaking the main stem.
Planting Eggplant in Containers
Eggplants have unusually attractive foliage and pretty blossoms. This makes them the ideal candidate for planting in wide-rimmed containers and large decorative pots. Try planting several different varieties in large colorful pots for contrast. Place the pots in a spot that receives at least eight hours of sun each day.
The Eggplant Harvest
When eggplants are ready to harvest, the outer skin will be a deep purple. It should also be somewhat soft when you press on the body of the eggplant. Cut the eggplant from the top with a sharp knife. Eggplant can be served sautéed, fried, baked, stewed or in casseroles.