Eggplant, along with tomatoes and potatoes, is part of the deadly nightshade family. Many people enjoy growing the purple or white globes and making such things as eggplant parmesan, ratatouille, and friend eggplant. If you are one of those people, here is how to grow your own eggplant.
Eggplant prefers soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.2. While it prefers sandy loam, eggplant will grow in a garden that has been tilled to a depth of 6 inches, then had 3 inches of compost tilled in on top of that. Actually, most things will grow under such conditions.
There are many types of eggplant. Some of the Japanese ones that are white and long and skinny are a choice, as are the small round, green kind. The most common type of eggplant, though, is the familiar purple globe. The most common cultivar in Texas is Black Bell, which produces large purplish black globes.
While it is possible to grow eggplant from seed, it is customary to grow it from transplants. Eggplants are planted when tomatoes and peppers are planted. They are sensitive to cold, so all danger of frost must have past for them to do well.
The plants will grow two to four feet tall, so space them 24-36 inches apart in the row. Eggplants are greedy nutrient feeders, so fertilize according to your soil test. If you did not do a soil test, use a complete fertilizer. Mix 1.5 pounds of it in the soil before planting and put 1.5 pounds of it down when the fruit appears. Eggplant also need at least an inch of water a week.
Harvest eggplant when it is still soft and the seeds have not hardened. If you can lightly press the fruit with a fingernail and the indentation stays, the fruit is ready. Cut the stem to harvest the eggplant. Beware the spines on the stem that will hurt if you are not careful.
The eggplant should be handled gently so it does not bruise. It will keep about a week in the refrigerator.
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