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.

Growing Eggplant


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
"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 growing them.

Transplanting


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.

Compost


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.

Book cover Vegetable Gardening

Pests


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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