Eggplant is the most temperature sensitive member of the Solanum family. They are both heat and drought tolerant. It prefers hot days, warm nights, and a long growing season. Eggplant plants do not bear heavily and take up a moderate amount of space in the garden so plan accordingly. Transplant outside after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up a bit (at least 2 weeks after the last frost date). Space plants 24″ apart in rows 3′ apart.
Eggplants are heavy feeders. Plants will appreciate a side dressing of compost during their growing season. Plants are sensitive to nitrogen. If over fertilized, they will grow more foliage and less fruit. Regular watering, about once a week, is optimal for fruit development. Too much watering can cause watery, bland tasting fruit.
To harvest: cut using a sharp knife. Eggplants will store better if you leave some of the stem on the fruit when harvesting. Pulling the fruit off can cause damage to the plant. You can begin harvesting the fruit when the skin is shiny and larger than an egg. If left to mature, the fruit will continue to slowly grow larger until it reaches the variety’s size. A good rule of thumb is to pick the fruit before the skin looses its glossy sheen and the fruit is longer than 8″. Regular picking may encourage the plant to set more fruit.
Eggplant solanum melongena
Black Beauty Eggplant
Broad, deep purple 8″-9″ fruit.
Tastes great in a variety of dishes.
Harvest 80 days.
Upright, slender, 8 oz. purple
fruit. High yield oriental type.
Harvest 61 days.
Patio Baby Eggplant
Deep-purple, chicken egg sized fruits.
Super productive, thornless plant.
Great for stir fry, well suited for patio
growing. Harvest 60 days.
Ping Tung Long Eggplant
Prolific, early producing eggplant. Slender fruits 12″-18″
long and 1″-2″ wide. Vigorous and stress tolerant. Tender
skin does not need to be peeled. Harvest 75 days.
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
Italian heirloom, light pink fruit.
Mild, not bitter, creamy flesh,
adapted to warm nights. Round 4-5″
fruit. Harvest 80 days.
Eggplant culture –
Eggplant is closely related to the tomato and potato, is a member of the nightshade family. The fruit is botanically classified as a berry and contains numerous small, soft seeds which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids; not surprising as it is a close relative of tobacco. European 18th-century cultivars were often yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s egg, hence the name “eggplant.”
Most cultivated varieties in the United States today have elongated oval shaped fruit with a dark purple skin. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The skin is smooth and edible. The fruit is fleshy and has a meaty texture. The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste that becomes tender when cooked. To remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars, many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking. Most modern varieties do not need this treatment.
Eggplant is used in the cuisine of many countries. It is often stewed or deep fried. Eggplant can be hollowed out and stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings, and then baked. It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern baba ghanoush.
Many pests and diseases which afflict tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, are also troublesome for eggplants. For this reason, Eggplant should not be planted in areas previously occupied by these close relatives. Four years should separate successive crops of eggplants. Common North American pests include the potato beetles, flea beetles, aphids, and spider mites. Good sanitation and crop rotation practices are extremely important for controlling fungal disease, the most serious of which is Verticillium. Mulching will help conserve moisture, prevent weeds and fungal diseases.