Growing Eggplant Is All About The Heat And Timing
Eggplant is one of those sometimes types of crops in a zone 4 garden
and I confess while it is easy to start the plants, there are a few
things to consider in growing and obtaining the fruit.
If you want to see eggplant in your garden, plan on either purchasing
started plants or to get the early variety you want, start them
yourself. Sow seeds in the middle of March for a late May outdoor
transplant date. Put the seed approximately a quarter inch deep (no
more) and keep the soil a minimum of 72F ( 80F is better) if you want
to see germination. Cold soil will not germinate these seeds. Water
with lukewarm water. The seed will germinate irregularly, you'll see
several seeds a day over a period of a week.
"Baby" eggplant just starting to grow
Once the seedlings have reached the two to four leaf stage, they can be
transplanted into individual pots and grown on at air temperatures in
the low 70's F. While some seedlings do not mind being transplanted at
a slightly lower depth (tomatoes thrive on it) always transplant
eggplant at the same depth as they were in the seedling flat.
Try to keep the plant growing strongly with high light levels, regular
water (warm water), lack of cold drafts, regular feeding and adequate
spacing. Any check in growth will cause lower yields in the garden. You
really want to avoid letting these plants go below 65F when you're
Transplant outdoors after all danger of frost, after the ground has
warmed up and night time temperatures will not fall below 50F. (They'll
take 45F but become really unhappy campers.) Cool nights mean that the
flowers will fall off and you won't get a harvest. Do not disturb the
roots when you transplant or you'll have unhappy eggplants. These
plants are a little finicky in their requirements for sure and if
you're having problems getting them to bear fruit, the above reasons
are the main problems faced by gardeners.
Use a goodly amount of compost in the soil before planting (they love
even moisture levels and even food levels). If the flowers set fruit,
then feed with some fish emulsion or other organic based food to give
them a boost.
Eggplant are bothered by the same pests as tomatoes and potatoes. To
avoid "wilt" problems, do not grow them on the same ground where those
plants have been grown in the previous two years. Control pests such as
aphids and potato bug with organic methods.
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