Eggplants are a heat-loving vegetable in the Solanaceae family that require two or more months of night temperatures around 70 degrees F. (21 C.) for optimal fruit production. These veggies are usually transplanted rather than directly sown in the garden. So how to grow eggplant from seeds? Read on to learn more.
Eggplants, with dramatic foliage and colorful fruit, are not only a great choice for a veggie garden, but an ornamental specimen as well. Native to Asia, this tender annual requires full sun, well-draining, slightly acidic, fertile soil and a long growing season.
There’s no particular eggplant seed preparation necessary prior to sowing. Eggplant seeds germinate at temps between 60-95 degrees F. (15-35 C.) and seedlings will emerge in seven to 10 days.
When growing with eggplant seeds instead of nursery starts, the seeds will remain viable for about four years. Starting seeds indoors is most common, although if you live in an extremely warm, humid region, planting eggplant seeds directly in the garden may work.
When starting your eggplant seeds indoors, be sure you have an area to germinate them that is quite warm, 80-90 F. (26-32 C.). Eggplant seed planting should occur four to six weeks before your last frost date.
Although eggplant seeds are tiny, sow the seeds about ¼-inch (6 mm.) deep with good quality potting soil in flats or cell containers. Use a dome or cloche to retain heat as well as humidity to encourage germination when eggplant seed planting indoors.
At optimal conditions, the growing eggplant seeds should germinate within seven days. Two weeks after germination, fertilize the seedlings once a week with a soluble fertilizer — 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of fertilizer to one gallon (4 l.) of water.
Eggplant seedlings will be ready to transplant in six to eight weeks. Harden off the seedlings carefully by gradually reducing ambient temps and easing off on watering. Wait until the weather has settled, with no chance of frost and the soil is warm before transplanting. Cool temperatures will weaken the plants, and frost will kill them.
Once your eggplant seedlings are ready to move outdoors, choose a full sun area with a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0 (acidic to neutral). Consider using a raised bed or black plastic mulch to aid in warming the soil and speeding up growth. You can also use an organic mulch to retain moisture, but don’t apply it until the soil is warm.
To reduce the risk of disease, eggplant crops should be rotated every few years and it does well following beans or peas.
Transplants should be set about 18-24 inches (46-61 cm.) apart in rows 30-36 inches (76-91 cm.) apart. Thereafter, the plants will require moderate irrigation and a bi-weekly feeding. Although eggplants are heavy feeders, avoid those that are high in nitrogen, which will encourage foliage growth and not fruit.
Harvest time for eggplant will be between 70-90 days from transplant date.
Eggplant is easy to grow, and some varieties are so beautiful they can be used as ornamentals. The flowers are gorgeous, and the eggplants look like little (or big) molded sculptures. This makes eggplant a popular vegetable to grow in containers because you can always move them around for the best view.
Growing eggplant from seed requires some care, but it is worth the effort because there is a huge variety you can buy in seed form, while nurseries often carry only a few types. Seedlings can be transplanted to the garden in about two months, or they can be grown to maturity in a large container.
Give eggplants a head start on the growing season by starting them indoors, six to nine weeks before the average last frost. Soak seeds overnight to encourage germination sow them ¼ inch deep in a loose, fine medium, such as vermiculite. Use bottom heat to maintain a soil temperature of 80 to 90 degrees for the eight to 10 days required for sprouting.
Transplant seedlings to individual pots once they reach 3 inches. When outside nighttime air temperatures are above 50 degrees, gradually expose them to the outdoors to harden them off. Keep transplanting your seedlings into larger pots as you wait for both outdoor air and soil to warm up to at least 70 degrees.
Try growing eggplants in raised beds, which heat up quickly in spring. Plants given plenty of room are healthier and more productive, so space them 2½ to 3 feet apart in all directions. Water well, pour 1 to 2 cups of compost around each plant, and firm the soil gently.
Eggplants are also good for container growing, with one plant per 5-gallon pot.
Space plants about 2' apart
Eggplant is a versatile fruit often used in Italian dishes such as ratatouille, caponata, and lasagna. Eggplant easily absorbs the flavors of whatever sauce it is cooked in. Interestingly, all parts of the plant are poisonous, except the fruit.
Eggplants require a long, warm growing season, as they're sensitive to cool climates and are extremely sensitive to any frost and light freezing. Four months of 60-85 degree temperatures is the ideal climate. In the cooler spring climates, the plants must be started indoors. They can be grown successfully in containers in city gardens.
When to Plant
Start seed indoors to allow at least 10 weeks for young plants to develop. When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, transplant them to individual pots when they are about 6 inches high, they are ready to be planted outdoors. Harden off seedlings and plant outdoors when days and nights are warm.
How to Plant
In rows 3 feet apart, with 2 feet between plants. Where cutworms are a problem, protect seedlings with a paper collar. Each plant should bear an average of 4 fruits.
Make sure outdoor soil temperature is at least 55-60F before transplanting otherwise they will become stunted, turn yellow, and are slow to bear. Difficulties growing eggplant are often related to cool weather conditions. Plant them in the hottest, sunniest spot available and cover with plastic jugs (bottom cut out, cap off) until leaves poke through the top. As frost approaches, pinch back new blossoms so that plant nutrients are channeled into the remaining fruits.
How to Harvest
A glossy coating on the fruit is a sign of readiness. Dull coatings or seeds that have turned brown indicate overripe fruits. Eggplants should be picked as soon as they are ripe, with slightly immature fruits tasting best.
Because the stem is woody, cut, do not pull, the fruit from the plant. Store picked fruit in a cool place until it is eaten.
Eggplant deteriorates rapidly, so don't wait too long to use it.
‘Black Beauty’ is a classic purple skinned fruit ‘Dusky’ is purple ‘Rosa Bianca’ is an heirloom with lavender streaks ‘Ichiban’ and ‘Pingtung Long’ have long fruits ‘White Egg’ and ‘Early Black Egg’ are small fruited and small plants suitable for container growing.
Botanical Name: Solanum melongena
Eggplants are a member of the Solanaceae family, other members of this family are tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
More tips: How to Grow Eggplant .
We can say that Eggplants are beautiful and a great food choice, these, when added to our diet, come packed with a number of benefits.
With weather conditions constantly changing it is important to be prepared. This article spoke at length about how to grow eggplant from seed. It also went into details about when and how to plant them, how to plant eggplants from cuttings, fruits and scraps. Along with all the tips and instructions, it is important as gardeners to keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan ahead. Nowadays, spring frost is not uncommon.
As we know it all eggplant variants are fond of the sun and frost harms the plant. it not only stops growing but also causes the flowers to fall off and the fruits not to set. To avoid this, it is important to invest in a frost blanket. These are available locally as well as on eCommerce websites. These blankets are a good way to retain moisture and trap in the heat to save plants from frostbite. They will protect your eggplants from untimely weather changes.
Hence it is not only important to know and perfect how to grow eggplant from seed but also important to know what to do when there are unexpected weather changes. It is also important to understand how to look after these plants by watering and feeding them well.
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
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