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Growing Eggplants

Melissa is the assignment editor and contributing writer for SheKnows Home and Living. While other little girls were playing dress up with Barbie, Melissa was busy remodeling Barbie's house. She now lives out her dream covering design an...

Eggplants add an exotic and colorful presence in the vegetable garden.

Although they are grown widely in the Mediterranean, eggplants are native to Thailand. The plants make a beautiful accent to flower or vegetable gardens, as their pretty lavender flowers change to stunning purple glossy fruit.


Although they are grown widely in the Mediterranean, eggplants are native to Thailand. The plants make a beautiful accent to flower or vegetable gardens, as their pretty lavender flowers change to stunning purple glossy fruit.

 

Eggplants are shaped sort of like squash, but don't be fooled—they are actually a member of the tomato family. When planting eggplants in the garden, keep them away from tomatoes and peppers because they all share the same tendencies for disease.

There are many varieties of eggplant for gardeners to choose from, ranging from round to long cylindrical fruits. Start eggplant seeds indoors like you would start tomato plants. When soil temperatures are between 75 to 90 F, transplant eggplants 12 to 18 inches apart in well-drained soil with a good proportion of organic matter. Water to two feet when the top inch of soil is dry, and take care to water the soil, not the fruit. Water can damage eggplants. Fertilize with fish emulsion or nitrogen fertilizer every two weeks.

Like some tomato varieties, eggplants are indeterminate, meaning that they will continue to produce fruit until extreme weather stops them. Considering this, you can maintain the same eggplant plant for a couple years as long as you protect it from frost. Also like tomatoes, eggplants can benefit from the support of a tomato cage.

Harvest eggplants when the fruit is shiny and firm. When the sheen disappears to reveal a dull finish, the fruit is over-ripe and will not be as tasty. Cut fruit from the plant instead of pulling it, and enjoy eggplants as soon as possible after picking for best flavor.
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