Eggplants love to be outdoors, so choose a sunny spot with a well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter. Mix 1 inch of well-rotted manure, compost or a general fertilizer (such as 5-10-5) into the soil about a week before transplanting.
Like other members of the nightshade family, eggplant requires 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and fruiting. Avoid planting near other vegetables that might shade the plant, such as corn or pole beans.
Preparing the Soil
If you want to grow eggplants, you need to prepare the soil well. The plants require rich, nutrient-dense soil that can retain water and drain properly.
Before planting, add aged compost and organic mulch to the bed. Test the soil pH, then add a fertilizer with the right amount of phosphorus and potassium.
Eggplants need a minimum of 12 inches (30cm) of soil depth and a neutral to slightly acidic pH range. They should be planted in the spring or early summer, as this is when the soil can warm up.
If you’re not able to get the soil ready in time, you can plant eggplants in containers. Many varieties do well in containers, and they develop faster than they do in the garden.
Whether you grow your eggplants in a garden bed or in containers, the right planting technique can ensure success. Eggplants do best in a rich soil with ample moisture. They can also handle slightly acidic soil with a pH of about 5.5 to 7.
Once the seeds have sprouted, transplant them into their final planting hole. Plant them 18 to 24 inches apart, depending on the variety you choose.
A layer of mulch, such as straw or compost, helps keep the soil warm and weed-free. Use a mulch that isn’t too dense or smothering; this can lead to collar rot and other issues.
In addition to watering, eggplant plants benefit from a slow and steady boost of fertilizer. Give them a light application of liquid organic fertilizer every 14 days to encourage fruit production and blooms.
Eggplants are a thirsty plant, and they require consistent watering to keep the soil moist and prevent fungal diseases. Ideally, eggplants should receive 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water every week.
If you have a moisture meter, you can check how much water your eggplants are receiving each week. This will help you adjust your watering schedule and avoid underwatering your eggplants, which causes yellowing leaves and stunted fruit production.
Underwatering can also lead to fungus problems, including root-knot nematode damage. The best way to protect your eggplants from these problems is to maintain a strong root system.
To get the most out of your planting, be sure to space your seedlings properly and add a good layer of organic mulch beneath them. Mulch will retain moisture and suppress weeds as well as warm the soil on cool days.
Eggplants require a steady diet of nutrients throughout the growing season to produce large, hefty vegetables. They also benefit from a boost of fertilizer when they are planted.
Eggplant plants need warm soil and adequate light to grow. If nighttime temperatures drop below 60 degrees, eggplant plants will slow or stop their growth.
To ensure healthy seedlings, start seeds indoors at least four to six weeks before the last frost date. Transplants, if desired, should be set out in the garden when they have 6 to 9 leaves and are well developed.
Fertilize the transplants once they are in place and again about six weeks after planting with a water-soluble plant food. Organic fertilizers such as compost tea and worm castings are ideal for boosting root and fruit growth.
When you plant eggplant, it is important to take measures for pest control. These pests can affect the growth and quality of the vegetable.
Flea beetles, aphids, and Colorado potato beetles are common pests that can affect eggplant plants. You can use pesticides that are organic or natural to control these insects.
Powdery mildew is another problem that may plague eggplants. This disease is often spotted on the leaves and can affect the overall health of the eggplants.
If the infestation is severe, chemical treatment is necessary. There are a few different fungicides that can be used. However, these fungicides should be only used by a licensed agronomist to ensure proper use.