Eggplant is a very unique plant for most home gardens and probably one of the lesser grown vegetables. The most famous recipe is in making eggplant parmesan, but they can be breaded and fried, baked, grilled, stewed, or used in dips.
One popular home garden cultivar of eggplant is ‘Black Beauty‘. This is the same cultivar I choose for my vegetable garden.
It produces large, plump, glossy eggplants that are very tasty. Eggplant is ready to harvest typically in 80-85 days.
How to Plant & Care for Eggplant
You can direct sow eggplant in hot climates. In northern climates, start seeds indoors 8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant at least 2 weeks after the last frost date. Use black plastic to keep the ground warm before planting in cooler climates.
Eggplant does best in rich, slightly acidic, well-draining soil with compost added. Eggplants need to be spaced about 24″ apart in rows at least 12″ apart. Eggplant can be either grown from seed or transplanted. Normally, I buy transplants from my local nursery due to the long growing period.
Grow them under row covers in cool climates to increase the temperature around the plants. The plant will not set fruit where nighttime temperatures get below 65° F.
It is a good idea to mulch around the plants to help keep moisture and heat in the soil around the plants. Take care while weeding around young plants, so that you do not disturb the roots.
Eggplant is a very heavy feeder, so side-dressing the plants with well-rotted compost or manure twice a month is encouraged.
Some varieties of eggplant may become very large, and thus heavy. You may need to give the plant some support.
How to Harvest Eggplant
Cut fruits from the plant when they reach full cultivar color and are firm and glossy, about 60-90 days after transplanting ( could be longer or shorter depending on the cultivar you are growing).
Make sure to cut the fruits with shears to avoid damaging the plant. Clipping fruits regularly will help promote new ones to grow. For more information on harvesting eggplant, please read How and When To Pick Eggplant.
Pests & Diseases of Eggplant
Shake them off onto a sheet of paper then dispose. Protect young plants from flea beetles by covering with floating row covers.
Try to choose virus-resistant cultivars for your garden. Following clean growing practices can help to avoid blights.
Eggplant is very easy to grow and makes for a wonderful garden addition. They will also add excitement and color to your vegetable garden; not to mention a delicious item on the dinner table.