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Eggplants, also called aubergine, are summer-growing crops that produce fruit well into autumn. They are part of the large and productive Solanaceae family, which means they are closely related to tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum and chilli. Eggplants are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B-6. 

They have a spongy texture and mild, tender taste that enables this vegetable to soak up other flavours. This is a versatile vegetable to use in curries, baba ghanoush, moussaka or on its own roasted, sautéed, stuffed or grilled on the family barbie. 

Eggplants are fairly easy to grow, as long as the conditions are right, and they have enough sun. They will take 14-16 weeks from sowing to harvest depending on the variety. 

Follow our seven easy steps to successful eggplant harvest including tips along the way.

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When to plant.

Eggplants add a touch of colour to the vegie patch, from green to white and stripes of white or with lavender, to the traditional dark purple. Check your local hardware or garden centre to see which one is your favourite. 

  1. In a warm, frost-free climate sow seeds directly into the vegie patch in late winter or early spring. In warm climates, it is possible to grow and harvest eggplants well into autumn and to plant them all year round. 
  2. In cooler zones, wait until late spring when the soil has warmed and all threat of frost is passed before direct sowing.

Location.

  • Eggplants don’t like frost or periods of cold weather, so plant after the last frost. 
  • Find a sunny position in the garden with plenty of space for plants to mature. 
  • They like to be staked to support their heavy fruit and to prevent damage. 
  • Eggplant plants grow well in individual pots. The plants are ornamental in flower and fruit and will crop well. Varieties with small fruit make good subjects for containers and small spaces.
Health soil, health plants
Handy Hints - How to grow tasty winter vegies

Soil.

Get the soil right to harvest a bumper crop of versatile eggplants.

Follow our steps for easy soil preparation.

  • Eggplants prefer a neutral to slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5-7). In areas with highly acidic soil (pH under 5), add a sprinkle of lime to the soil when preparing for planting. 
  • Prepare the soil prior to planting by digging in well-rotted manure and compost and/or apply Seasol Liquid Compost. 
  • A soil rich in nutrients helps build strong plants so add Seasol Plant + Soil Booster (100g per square metre) and a fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release Tomatoes & Vegetables. 
  • Water in well and let the soil rest

Step 1 – Sowing Seeds.

  • Place each seed around 6mm deep in the ground or seed-raising mix, in seed trays, punnets or a container. 
  • In the garden, space seeds about 30cm–50cm apart to allow room for the plants to grow and mature. 
  • In cool and temperate zones sow seed from mid to late winter and onwards into Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting mix in a seed tray or punnet. 
  • Water in well with Seasol GOLD or Seasol as this will help to increase seed germination rates. Soil should be moist but not wet. 
  • If in containers, grow one plant in a deep pot that’s at least 30cm in diameter. 

Note: This is not eggplant seeds, it’s just an illustration to show seeds being planted.

Step 2 – Germination.

  • Seedlings take around 10 to 14 days to emerge (slower rates in colder conditions). 
  • Keep in a warm, sheltered spot such as a foam box or inside on a heating pad to aid germination. 
  • Water gently and apply Seasol GOLD or Seasol weekly (30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water) as this will help to stimulate strong root development and healthy growth. 
  • Plant out into the garden when the seedlings are large enough to handle or transfer to a small pot to grow on until it’s warm enough to transplant them into the vegie garden or a larger container.

Step 3 – Baby eggplant seedlings.

  • The first leaves to appear are a pair of narrow seedling leaves. As the seedling grows its true leaves appear.
  • If overcrowding occurs, select the strongest seedling and thin out or transplant the rest. 
  • Use scissors or tweezers to thin out seedlings to avoid disturbing young roots. 
  • Eggplant seedlings need a lot of nutrients to produce a tasty bumper crop so liquid feed with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables every 2 weeks. Increase the application rates from 20mL to 50mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water as the plants mature. 
  • Check soil moisture daily and water where needed.

Step 4 – Plant out eggplant seedlings.

  • Transplant homegrown seedlings at 10cm into individual pots to grow on before transplanting into the garden when plants are about 15cm high. 
  • Space 30-50cm apart (depending on variety) in rows at least 60cm apart (greater spacing makes it easier to manage plants).
  • Where seedlings have been purchased, plant according to the directions on the plant tag.
  • Support plants by digging a stake into the ground about 10cm from the plant. Tie growth to the stake using a soft tie so as not to damage the stem.
  • Water gently and apply Seasol GOLD or Seasol and firm them into the soil.

Step 5 – Eggplant growth.

  • Remove weeds as they appear as they complete for moisture and nutrients. 
  • Mulch around each plant suppresses weeds and helps retain soil moisture.
  • As plants grow continue to ensure plants are well staked and supported.
  • Every 6-8 weeks apply another application of PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables to produce a bumper crop.
  • Check soil moisture daily especially during periods of high heat when they may need to be checked morning and night.

Step 6 – Eggplant flower and fruit growth.

  • Keep plants in the ground or containers well watered.
  • Flowers appear quickly around 8 to 12 weeks from germination depending on the variety. 
  • As flowers begin to grow/show, apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables and Seasol GOLD or Seasol weekly. 
  • After flower formation, the fruit appears and starts to grow. Ensure plants are well staked to support the plant as the mature fruits are heavy.
  • Keep plants healthy by removing dead and diseased leaves and stems. This will also open up air circulation around the plant.

Step 7 – Eggplant harvest.

  • Harvest eggplants when the fruit is large and heavy. Immature fruit tastes bitter while over mature fruit may show immature seeds. 
  • Cut the fruit from the plant with a small piece of stem attached to avoid damaging the flesh. 
  • Healthy eggplants continue to fruit and grow until cold conditions halt growth. 
  • Fruit can be stored in a plastic bag for several weeks in the fridge, but they are best used straight away.

Things to watch out for…..

Eggplants are usually trouble free, particularly when grown with regular water along with protection from cold. 

28-spotted ladybird This distinctive orange and black insect and its spiky larvae skeletonise leaves. Squash any that are seen. An early sign that the insect has arrived is leaf damage and clusters of yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves. Squash before they hatch to reduce the damage.

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