Solanum melongena L.
Use starter fertilizer for transplanting. Side-dress nitrogen fertilizer when the plants are half grown and again immediately after harvest of the first fruits. Given sufficient moisture and fertility, eggplant thrives in the heat of summer. The plants tolerate dry weather after they are well established but should be irrigated during extended dry periods for continued peak production.
Large Oval Fruit Dusky (60 days to harvest, good size, early production) Epic (64 days, tear-drop shaped) Black Bell (68 days, round to oval, productive) Black Magic (72 days) Classic (76 days, elongated oval, high quality) Black Beauty (OP-80 days) Burpee Hybrid (80 days) Ghostbuster (80 days; white, slightly sweeter than purple types; 6 to 7 inch oval). Elongated Fruit Ichiban (70 days) Slim Jim (OP-70 days; lavender, turning purple when peanut-sized; good in pots) Little Fingers (OP-68 days; 6 to 8 inch, long, slim fruit in clusters). Ornamental Fruit Easter Egg (52 days; small white, egg-sized, shaped, turning yellow at maturity; edible ornamental)
Eggplant is best started from transplants. Select plants in cell packs or individual containers. It is important to get the plants off to a proper start. Do not plant too early. Transplant after the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has passed. Eggplants are more susceptible than tomato plants to injury from low temperatures and do not grow until temperatures warm.
Harvest the fruits when they are 6 to 8 inches long and still glossy. Use a knife or pruning shears rather than breaking or twisting the stems. Many eggplant varieties have small prickly thorns on the stem and calyx, so exercise caution or wear gloves when harvesting. Leave the large (usually green) calyx attached to the fruit.
Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart in the row, or even closer for small fruited types. Three to six plants are usually sufficient for most families unless eggplant is a favorite vegetable, eaten often. Allow 30 to 36 inches between rows or space plants 24 inches apart in all directions in raised beds.
Pests and Problems
Additional pests and problems that may affect this plant:
- Anthracnose (Colletotrichum sp.)
- Phytophthora blight (Phytophthora capsici)
- Phomopsis blight (Phomopsis vexans)
- Southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii)
Eggplant is a cold-sensitive vegetable that requires a long warm season for best yields. The culture of eggplant is similar to that of bell pepper, with transplants being set in the garden after all danger of frost is past. Eggplants are slightly larger plants than peppers and are spaced slightly farther apart. Eggplant requires careful attention for a good harvest. Small-fruited, exotic-colored and ornamental varieties can be grown in containers and used for decorations.