Eggplant

Growing Eggplant

Eggplant has been cultivated in Asia since prehistory and introduced to the Mediterranean in the middle ages. It is a very versatile fruit that can be cooked in many ways.

IMG_20141231_103445-eggplant 1

Growth habits and planting needs

Eggplant like a sunny position and a soil pH below 6.0, so acidic. Test the soil and amend with lime if over this.

Because eggplants are susceptible to soil born fungus and verticillium wilt they should not be grown where tomatoes have been grown but rather follow a leafy crop in the crop rotation system.

The soil should be rich and friable.  Dig well rotted compost and aged animal manures to a depth of 30 cm. The soil should drain well will retaining moisture.

The root structure of the mature plant extends about 30-35 cm around the plant and are most extensive to a depth of 35 cm with the tap root extending close to a meter.

This makes moisture in the upper part of the soil most important as are the nutrients needed in this zone.

Like tomatoes, eggplant are sensitive tot transplantation and do well to be planted as seed in the garden bed.

Sow seeds 5mm deep and keep well watered. Space the plants 60-75 cm apart and allow for a stake to support the mature plant.

The young seedlings should be fed fortnightly with a sea weed based liquid fertilizer until flowers appear.

Mulch the surface well to an area of about 35 cm around the plant to maintain moisture in the soil. Water in the early morning to prevent diseases and to allow the leaves to dry and avoid mildew.

This diagram shows the root development of the Eggplant (depth in ft)

Eggplant Roots
Root development at 7 weeks Source: Soil and Health Library

Harvesting

Eggplant will be ready to harvest 24-26 weeks from sowing. The fruit should be picked often to keep the plant productive and bring on new fruit.

As the stem is woody cut off with secateurs.

The eggplant should be shiny and deep purple, depending on the variety and be of a good weight.

Eggplant
Mature eggplant of different varieties

Recipes

Here are the links to some recipes that you can make from your harvest of eggplant

Peperonata

Eggplant and Lasagne

Pickled Eggplant

Moussaka with Potatoes

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