Honestly, I am not even sure if I had ever tasted an eggplant before I started gardening. I am not really sure what made me want to grow eggplant… hmmm but I am glad I do! These purple beauties are so rewarding to pull out of your squarefoot garden! They almost look fake with their glossy deep purple skin and velvety foliage.
They are delicious in many dishes in the kitchen like the obvious, Eggplant Parmesan. They are good cut up and grilled or added to pasta or stir fry. I love growing eggplant because they yield a large harvest and are pretty easy to grow. Although they do take a decent amount of time to produce, they are well worth the wait!
Eggplant come in many different shapes and colors but typically black to deep purple. I prefer the Black Beauty variety, they are large and a deep dark purple. The black beauties also tend to be a little more tender than other varieties. Each black beauty tends to bear 6-12 glossy eggplant throughout the season. Each plant grows to be 24-30″ in height.
Eggplant requires full sun to produce, so plant your eggplant where it will get 6 hours of sun plus. Eggplants only grow in the summer and are sensitive to cold weather. Eggplant take about 85 days to harvest so it is recommended to start your seeds in doors about 8-10 weeks before the last frost. It is recommended to wait until at least three weeks after the last frost to transplant outdoors. Of course if you are not going to start from seed your local farmers market or home and garden store will carry plants you can purchase to transplant into your garden. You can plant one eggplant per square foot in your garden.Growing
Eggplants need to have constant water and like to be moist. Especially when its fruits are forming on its branches. Once the plant has reach about 1 foot tall, place a tomato cage around the plant for support. It will continue to grow right through the cage. The cage will help support the large glossy fruits. Harvesting
Eggplant are ready to be harvested when they are glossy and firm. If you notice they are dulling in color that is a good indication that they have reached their maximum size and need to be picked as soon as possible. Always use clippers to harvest your eggplant cutting the stem from the rest of the bush. Use caution when harvesting your eggplant for the stem in covered in thorns. As you can see in the picture below.Tips
Eggplant is very sensitive to cold weather, be sure to transplant eggplant once the chance of all cold weather has passed or risk hurting the growth of you fruit. Typically in square foot gardening you do not need to fertilize your plants but I like to give my eggplant a mid-season nitrogen boost with a little blood meal. Eggplant seems to arrive relatively close together. So plan ahead with what you want to make with your eggplant to prevent wasting them. This year I got 6 in one week from 2 of my 4 eggplant bushes. Be sure to harvest your eggplant when young, firm and glossy. The younger eggplants tend to be tastier than larger eggplants. You will get more confident in knowing when your eggplant is ready to be harvested with time.
Check out some of my favorite recipes to use eggplant from the garden in below.
Grow it. Pick it. Cook it. Eat it.