Eggplants, whose scientific name is Solanum melongena, is a vegetable rich in nutrients and have very beneficial properties, but is known to be somewhat delicate in its cultivation. Learn all about how to grow eggplants step by step in this article.
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When to Plant Eggplants
When it comes to planting eggplants, we have two options, to do it directly in its final location in a vegetable garden or pot, or to do it first in a seedbed.
If we plant in the definitive location, the idea is to do it well into spring, between March and May in the Northern Hemisphere. The most important thing at this point is to make sure that the frosts have already passed since the eggplant plant needs a temperature of at least 53.6°F (12 ºC) to germinate and develop properly. If you live in a cold climate, delay sowing as long as necessary or buy seedlings between 4” – 6” (10 -15 cm) high to save the seed germination phase and the first weeks of the plant’s life, which are the most sensitive to cold.
If we choose the seedbed, which we recommend to be able to advance the crop and because it allows us closer and more controlled monitoring of plant development, we can sow the eggplants between late winter and early spring.
How to Grow Eggplants from Seed
Follow these indications and steps to plant eggplants in the vegetable garden:
1- When planting eggplants, it is very important to properly prepare the soil. One of the most frequent reasons why eggplants do not grow properly is because this plant is very demanding in terms of soil nutrients. Therefore, it is vital to loosen the soil properly and enrich it with plenty of organic matter, such as compost or worm castings. The latter is always particularly interesting, as it is not only rich in nutrients, but also provides beneficial microorganisms for the crop. Also, the roots of eggplant are very strong and develop a lot, so the soil shouldn’t be caked to allow them to do so.
2- The soil must offer very good drainage to prevent rotting of the plant, so very clay soils may require a generous supply of compost or equivalent material to improve their ability to remove and absorb water.
3- Once the soil has been prepared, prepare the holes in the soil for the eggplants. Ideally, leave about 27” (70 cm) between plants and between rows to leave space for their roots.
4- If you plant from seed, that is, if you sow eggplants, it is not necessary to bury them very deep, while, if you repot the seedlings already germinated in the seedbed or purchased, it is convenient to add a few handfuls of worm castings to the base of the holes for the plant.
5- Cover the seeds or the base of the seedlings with more soil, water the area, and watch the growth of your eggplants as the days go by.
How to Grow Eggplants in Pots
Another option if you are wondering how to plant your eggplants at home is to do it in a pot, even permanently. The ideal is to use a small pot to start with or a seedbed to germinate it, and once the seedling is about 4” (10 cm), repot it into its definitive pot.
1- Prepare the seedbed: seedbeds can be any recent small or shallow plastic tray to which we can practice some drainage holes, with a mixture of peat, worm humus, and coconut fiber.
2- Sow the eggplant seeds: do it at a shallow depth, cover them with compost and water abundantly.
3- Take care of the seeds for their germination: keep the soil moist during the first weeks, but always without waterlogging, and place the seedlings in a warm room at least 53.6°F or 55.4°F (12 or 13ºC).
4- Plant the eggplants in the pot: when the seedlings are ready for repotting (they should be between 4” – 6” (10 and 15 cm high) look for a pot with drainage holes, made of ceramic material if possible, as it is the one that offers the best properties for this plant, and with at least 12” (30 cm) depth, because even in a pot, the space for planting eggplants should be quite large. The soil mixture used in seedbeds will also be valid here.
How Long Does Eggplant Take to Grow
Eggplants require 100 to 120 days to set fruit and reach maturity from seed.
How Many Eggplants Does a Plant Produce
Another of the doubts that arise when we think about how to grow eggplants at home, either in a large garden, in an urban garden, or large pots on a terrace, is how many eggplants a plant gives an idea of the yield we can expect and if we are taking care of it well enough.
The number of fruits that an eggplant plant gives and the quality and size of these will depend mainly on the plant itself and how optimal are its development conditions, but farmers and expert amateurs claim that one of these plants can give more than 25 eggplants, always in ideal conditions.
Tips and Recommendations for Growing Eggplants
Finally, we will tell you the basic care of eggplants so that you can grow them well in your garden or pot:
Soil for eggplant: very rich in organic matter, loose and drained.
How to water eggplants: abundant watering, without puddling. Drip if possible.
Fertilizer: abundant, providing a lot of organic matter.
Temperature: warm, does not tolerate frost.
Light: the direct sun.
Trellising: very convenient in tall plants to encourage development and fruiting.
Pruning: leave 4 or 5 main branches as it grows. Remove offshoots.
When to harvest eggplant: eggplant growth time is about 2 months from planting to harvesting.