On Growing Eggplants

Fresh eggplant in mid-October!
Talk about a late growing season! It's Oct. 12, and we've just plucked some gorgeous, ripe eggplants from the garden.  A member of the nightshade family, the eggplant is related to the potato and tomato. Eggplant is actually a fruit, specifically a berry. 

We planted black beauty eggplant seeds purchased from Seeds of Change way back in the beginning of the summer. The droughts throughout the season really stunted growth for a bunch of crops; but thanks to extensive mulching in all our rows, the cold has yet to really affect most of our late-summer veggies. Tomatoes are still turning red, and we found these beauties (with several more still on their way!) just two days ago.

Here are some tips we've consolidated regarding raising eggplants:

Nutritional information: eggplant
Eggplants grow in a wide assortment of shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors to decorate the garden or create that favorite recipe. Eggplants can produce round fruits, fat and oblong ones, or slender and elongated fruits. The colors range from shades of purple, black, and lavender, to red, pink, rose, yellow, white, orange, green, and even multi-colored and striped eggplants. You can choose from tiny, marble sized varieties, right on up to giant zucchini sized eggplants.

We started our seeds back in March and raised the young plants in the greenhouse until mid-May. Usually we transplant in June, but the season started early this year so we decided to go for it. If you grow eggplants and tomatoes, a good rule of thumb is to start eggplant seedlings a couple of weeks ahead of tomatoes, and transplant the young eggplants into the garden a week or two after setting out tomato plants.Eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers will all follow a similar growing schedule.

Eggplants can be cultivated in a manner very similar to tomatoes. They will flourish under the same growing conditions, and also prefer a fertilization regimen that favors potassium and phosphorous over high levels of nitrogen, especially when the plants are flowering and fruiting.

Although our eggplants appear to be extremely late bloomers, this vegetable actually likes it hot. Eggplants grow very well in raised beds and can be spaced 12 inches apart in each direction. Healthy plants will quickly cover and shade the bed, eliminating any opportunity for weeds to become established.

Click here for a yummy eggplant parm recipe!

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.