Eggplants are sometimes referred to as “superfoods." They're known to be one of the most versatile fruits in the culinary world and can be used in making different kinds of cuisines. You just name it! Grills, sauces, oven-baked dishes, side dishes, etc., aubergines are perfect for making any of your sumptuous meals and are extremely healthy, too.
Now to how to grow eggplant... Pretty easy! The first thing to do is start them indoors, where they can get sufficient lighting. Then, after about 8 weeks of germination, you can transfer them into your garden. This is to ensure they properly thrive, and, at the end of the day, yield you the biggest fruits you can use in making your delicious meals.
We’ll get down to details on how to grow your eggplant.
But, in the meantime, let’s find out more about these delicious plants (fruits, veggies, whatever you call them). How did eggplants become one of the commonest household foods today?
What are Eggplants?
So, before we get on with our eggplant growing guide, let's quickly go into a bit of eggplant' background, together.
This background will help you to understand what eggplants really are and how you can successfully cultivate them, whether for personal consumption or business.
The exact origin of eggplants is not known, but are said to be native to Africa, South Asia, and India where they grow wild. This plant made its way into Europe later on in the Medieval period through the Moors and has since grown to become a food you'll find virtually everywhere.
Solanum melongena (or eggplant, if you please) is a member of the nightshades/Solanaceae family. This is a family of annual/perennial plants and it includes plants like tomatoes, potatoes, and chili peppers, which are also other common foods.
Eggplants grow best under high temperatures (At 70°–85°F during the daytime & 60°–70° during the night) but slowdown in cooler weathers. This is because eggplants, unlike some other plants the nightshades family, like tomatoes, love warm soil and are more sensitive to lower temperatures.
People initially thought eggplants were poisonous especially because, like Atropa Belladonna, a highly toxic plant of the same family, they also grow in the wild and produce the shiny egg-like fruits that we all consume as foods.
Now that you have what eggplants are, let's get on to business…
How to Grow Eggplant from Seeds
Eggplants are quite easy to grow if you're ready to dedicate a sufficient amount of time to properly caring for them until they flourish.
But, before you go ahead to start your eggplants, you need a proper understanding of the planting processes for successful cultivation.
Below is a step-by-step guide to how to grow eggplants.
Let's start from the beginning, right from the planting stage through to the time they're ready for harvest.
Sowing the Eggplant Seeds Indoors
To grow eggplants, you'd have to start them indoors, first, for about 9 weeks.
But, before you do anything, prepare your eggplants seeds. Soak them overnight in clean water. This is to ensure they germinate well after you plant them.
After soaking the seeds, you can go ahead to sow them ¼ inch deep into the soil using a planting medium you prefer. Most gardeners recommend raised beds as makes it easy for the soil to warm up more quickly.
You can also use any other medium you please. Just ensure your eggplants are getting adequate heat to grow healthily.
Bottom heat the soil regularly to between 80°–90°F for about 10 days until you notice the eggplant sprouting.
Transplanting the Seedlings
Transplant the eggplant seedlings after they've fully sprouted and all are about 3 inches tall into pots or any other medium you're using. Plant all the seedlings 3ft apart to give each plant more than enough space to thrive and grow healthily.
Water the plants add some composts to the soil, just around the stem of each plant.
Carefully press the soil to make it firm.
How to Care for Your Eggplants
The next point of call after planting is tending to your eggplants regularly until you're certain they're fully ready for harvest.
Mulching - After transplanting, you can also mulch your soil. This is another way to warm the soil.
Watering - Water the plants regularly. At least 1" every week. This changes depending on how high the temperature is.
Weeding - Weed every unwanted plant. Weeds can outperform your eggplants and make it difficult for them to grow properly. So, always remove any weed that sprouts before they get a chance to kill your eggplants.
Support - When the plants grow tall, they'll need stalks for support. You can use bamboo poles to keep the stem upright and to prevent the fruits from dropping off when they're not yet mature.
Harvesting Your Eggplants
Eggplants become very smooth and shiny when they're ripe. But, this is not enough to tell most times.
So, to confirm if an eggplant fruit is truly ripe, pick one and slightly press the skin. If the indented part of the fruit doesn't stay, then your fruit isn't ready and you might need to wait more weeks.
However, if they do stay, your eggplants are ripe and should be harvested immediately.
To harvest, get your pruning shears and clip the eggplant fruits from the plants. When clipping the fruits, keep in mind that you have to leave the fruit cap intact as well as about 1" of the eggplant stem, too.
You'd also want to watch out for the tiny prickles on the caps and stems to avoid skin reactions.
Eggplants may turn brown and bitter when they've gone past their prime. So, you should pick them as early as possible to prevent this. It's best to pick the eggplants immediately they ripen or when they're mature.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Eggplant?
Eggplants should take up to 2–3 months after you've transplanted them. With the starting stage, that'd be about 4–5 months until your eggplants are mature.
How Much Sun Does an Eggplant Need?
Eggplants thrive better in high temperatures, so they love the sun. Provide them with Make nothing less than six hours of direct sunlight every day for optimal growth.
How Do I Make My Eggplant Bear More Fruits?
Eggplants generally do well in warm soil. So, warm up the soil and plant in locations where they'd get the required temperature so they can yield more fruits for you.
Now that you have all the information you need on how to grow eggplants and your fears allayed, the next point of call is to start planting.
Don't forget to always start your eggplant before planting them in your garden. This will not only speed up the growth of your eggplants but also allow you to give them the attention they can get for optimal growth.
Have fun growing your eggplants!