Eggplant - Key Growing Information
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Solanum melongena, except where otherwise noted (S. gilo).
CULTURE: Eggplants require fertile, well-drained soil with a pH range of 6.2-6.8. Sow seed in flats indoors during early spring, or 6-8 weeks prior to planting outdoors. Sow 4 seeds/in., ¼" deep, and maintain soil temperature at 80-90°F (27-32°C) until emergence and 70°F (21°C) thereafter. Seed will not germinate in cool soil. After true leaves form, thin to 2-3" apart in flats or transplant into 2-3" pots or plug trays. To harden plants, reduce water and temperature to about 60°F (16°C) for about a week before planting out. Transplant outdoors late spring or early summer once the weather has thoroughly settled. Eggplants are tender, and cold weather may weaken them. Use row covers for a boost in performance and insect control. Remove when plants reach the covers or when blossoms first appear. Space transplants 18" apart in rows 30-36" apart, or 2 rows on plastic mulch, 18-24" between plants. It is important to be mindful of over-fertility. Too much nitrogen often results in large, bushy plants that produce only one small set of fruit.
STAKING: Eggplants may be pruned and staked to keep the fruits straight.
DISEASE: Practice lengthy crop rotation to avoid Verticillium wilt. A 4-5 year rotation for all Solanaceae crops is recommended.
INSECT PESTS: Fabric row covers are the recommended method of control for flea beetles and Colorado potato beetles (CPB) for newly-set transplants. Once covers are removed, regularly check undersides of leaves and crush any orange egg masses of the CPB.
HARVEST: Clip fruit stem with shears. Pick fruits of desired size regularly to encourage further production.
DAYS TO MATURITY: From transplanting.
TRANSPLANTS: Avg. 800 plants/1,000 seeds.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/OZ.: 6,500–8,400 (avg. 7,300).
PACKET: 25 seeds.