With their purple flowers and colorful fruits, eggplants look good in any garden. Eggplants also are unique among vegetables -- their meaty, hearty texture and taste make them one of the most satisfying vegetables to eat, and a popular ingredient in many vegetable recipes. In this article, we'll talk about growing eggplant.
Eggplant is grown as an annual and has large, hairy, grayish-green leaves. The star-shaped flowers are lavender with yellow centers. The long, slender or round, egg-shaped fruit can be creamy white, yellow, brown, or purple, depending on the variety. Eggplants will grow 2 to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety. Typical home garden varieties produce fruit that is rounded with shiny, dark purple skins. The Asian varieties produce fruit that is slender and elongated with skin that is usually dull purple in color. Eggplant belongs to the tobacco family and is related to tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.
Common Name: Eggplant
Scientific Name: Solanum melongena
Hardiness: Very Tender (will not survive frost)
In the next section, we'll show you how to grow eggplant.
The deep, rich color of eggplant will beautify your home vegetable garden.
Eggplant is very sensitive to cold and needs a growing season with day temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and night temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although you can grow eggplant from seed, you'll wait 150 days for a harvest. It's easier to grow from transplants started inside about six to eight weeks before your outside planting date, which should be two to three weeks after the danger of frost.
Eggplants must have full sun. They'll grow in almost any soil, but they do better in rich soil that is high in organic matter. Excellent drainage is essential. Set the plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Try to maintain an even soil moisture to ensure even growth. In hot climates the soil temperature may become too warm for the roots; in this case, mulch the plants about a month after you set them outside.
The time from planting transplants to harvest is 70 to 85 days. Harvest the fruit young, before the flesh becomes pithy. The fruit should be firm and shiny with no brown streaks. The fruit is borne on a sturdy stem that does not break easily from the plant; cut it off with a sharp knife.
- Tycoon, harvest at 54 days, is an Asian type with slender, purple fruit.
- Bambino, harvest at 60 days, produces small, rounded fruit on compact, 12-inch plants; it is an ideal variety for containers and small spaces.
- Victoria Hybrid, harvest at 61 days, an Italian type with a deep purple skin color, produces fruit that is long and slender and good for slicing.
- Dusky Hybrid, harvest at 62 days from transplants, is good for short seasons, producing slender, oval dark purple fruit.
- Black Beauty, harvest at 80 days from transplants, has rounded, dark purple fruit.