Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener
Spring has officially arrived! This is the perfect time of year to brush up on your knowledge of growing techniques. Here at MIgardener, we want to share all of our favorite growing secrets; from our garden to yours. As you read through this post, you’ll find there is nothing simpler than growing organic!
Did you know that eggplants are classified as berries in the botanical world? In the nightshade family, eggplants have two surprising relatives: tomatoes and potatoes. Their simple but pleasant flavor are why we treat them as vegetables in most recipes. This spongy, absorbent fruit will take in any seasoning or sauce you surround it with. It’s not recommended to eat them fresh, because they are ideal baked, sautéd, or fried! Garden fresh eggplants are unmatched in the realm of flavor and texture, so here are a few tips and tricks to growing them at home.
Let’s get started.
Soil requirements are the same as for tomatoes and peppers, but eggplant does not do as well on heavy soils. Amend soil with sand and compost to keep it loose.
Apply fertilizer twice a year. At the beginning of the season, add an all purpose, nitrogen rich fertilizer like blood meal. This will help the plant get started, and insure that leaf development happens. Mid season, once fruit begins to develop; switch to a phosphorus rich fertilizer like bone meal to encourage healthy fruit development. If you can’t get your hands on these specific fertilizers, an all purpose fertilizer will work for either application. The plant will only take the nutrients it needs from the fertilized soil. We use Trifecta+.
Eggplants enjoy a slightly acidic soil with a 5.5-6.0 on a soil test.
Direct, full sun. 5-7 hours minimum. In the summer, eggplants can receive up to 11 hours of sunlight.
Water regularly. Eggplants are drought tolerant which means they won’t split like tomatoes or whither like lettuce after waiting for water. The only reason to keep up a regular watering is to maintain the best flavor possible for your fruit. Eggplants tend to go bitter after a lack of water even if the fruit isn’t visibly damaged.
Space between 1 and 1.5 feet apart. Eggplants do well in higher intensity spacing, and it helps save space in the garden.
60°-95°F. Eggplants love hot weather, producing its best crop in in a long, hot summer. They are more sensitive to cold temperatures than tomatoes. Temperatures below 50 degrees F will harm the plant, and any frost will kill them. The fruit will not set if temperatures dip below 60 degrees F.
With eggplants, size never determines ripeness. Textrue is everything when it comes to knowing when to harvest eggplants. Many gardeners will delay the harvest until most of the fruits are nearly mature size (1 to 5 pounds each). This way you can harvest the entire crop in only a few weeks. However, eggplants are ready to harvest from the moment the fruit starts developing! As long as the texture of the skin remains pliable and shiny, your eggplants are ready for harvesting. Immature fruits tend to be the most tender and the highest quality. Select fruit with glossy skin. A dull sheen means and eggplant is past its prime. Examine the seeds: Dark seeds may mean lower quality. You may hold harvested fruit up to one weel at 50°F and hight humidity.