Common Name: Eggplant
Botanical Name: Solanum melongena
Type: Perennial, grown as an annual, with edible fruit
Planting Dates: Spring after all danger of frost. For fall, 100-120 days before the first average frost. In general, plant seed April 1 - April 30 and May 31-July 15.
Planting Method: Use 7-8-week-old transplants that are about 5-6 inches tall for best results. 65-80 days from planting. If starting from seed, plant ½ inch deep.
Seed Emergence: 6-21 days at 75-90°
Harvest Time: Harvest the fruit as it matures
Height: 18-24 inches
Spread: 18-24 inches
Spacing: 2-1/2 feet rows, 3 feet on center, plants 15-18 inches apart
Growth Habits: Large, fuzzy leaves, thick stems, open growth and fruit in several sizes, basically two colors: purple and white.
Culture: Don’t plant too early in the spring. Eggplant does not do not like cold weather. Do not plant deeply; eggplant does not have the ability to root from stems. Best to grow in cages because the plants get floppy.
When blossoms or first small eggplants are visible, apply sidedressing. Use a half a handful of organic fertilizer per plant.
Troubles and Solutions: Very sensitive to frost. Leaf miners, potato beetles, flea beetles, and spider mites can be controlled with garlic, seaweed, and citrus-based sprays. Nematodes can be eliminated by tilling citrus pulp into the soil prior to planting. Yellows, a virus, is a common leaf disease that can be controlled with a basic organic program and healthy soil. Use cornmeal for a short-term solution. Fire ants have become a major enemy of eggplant. Control them with Garrett Juice plus citrus oil.
Harvest and Storage: Use a knife or pruning shears to avoid damage to plants. Store the fruit in a cool place or eat as soon as possible. Harvest when two-thirds full size to avoid toughness. Expect 7-20 fruit per plant.
Notes: Member of the nightshade family, which are considered toxic by macrobiotic practitioners. All nightshade plants are reported to create negative response in joints. The small thin Japanese varieties are most tender and have the best flavor.
Varieties: Florida market, Midnight, Black Night, Black Beauty. Small fruited varieties - Ichiban, Imperial, Kurame. White variety - Casper.