How to Grow Eggplants in Your Backyard

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Juicy, meaty eggplant fresh from your own garden makes for the ultimate late summer barbecue. Growing these beauties is easier than you think – even for beginners. With just a few simple tips, you’ll be harvesting armloads of gorgeous globe eggplants to slice up for the grill.

Choosing the Best Spot for Planting Eggplants

Eggplants thrive on summer heat. For the best crop, choose the sunniest spot in your yard that’s sheltered from wind. Well-drained, nutrient-rich soil is essential too. Here are your best options:

Raised Garden Beds

Fill your raised beds with a high-quality potting mix made especially for veggies. The loose, fluffy texture allows eggplant roots to spread easily underground.

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In-Ground Gardens

To create ideal eggplant soil in the ground, mix in several inches of aged compost or manure before planting. This boosts nutrition and helps retain moisture.

Containers

Big pots (at least 10 inches deep) work perfectly for eggplants. Use a premium potting mix and set containers in the brightest, hottest area you have.

Caring for Eggplants in the Garden

Eggplants need consistent moisture and nutrition from seedling stage through harvest. Follow these tips for happy, productive plants:

  • Water carefully – Soaker hoses or drip irrigation works best. Keep soil moist but not saturated.
  • Mulch generously – Spread 3-4 inches of bark chips, shredded leaves or straw around plants to conserve moisture and discourage weeds.
  • Feed regularly – Every 2-3 weeks, sprinkle a balanced organic vegetable fertilizer around plants, following label rates.
  • Support heavily – Insert tomato cages or stakess when planting eggplant seedlings. Tie plants loosely to supports as they grow.

How to Grow Eggplants from Seedlings

Eggplants can’t tolerate any cold whatsoever. So they must be started indoors or purchased as seedlings before outdoor planting time. Follow these simple steps:

  • Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before your region’s last expected frost date.
  • Harden off seedlings by setting them outdoors in filtered sunlight for a few hours daily, a week before transplanting.
  • Wait to transplant until soil warms to at least 60° Fahrenheit, and all chance of frost has passed.
  • Space eggplant seedlings 24-36 inches apart in beds or containers with nutrient-rich soil.

Harvesting Perfect Eggplants All Season

Test for ripeness by checking eggplant skin and seeds:

  • Ripe – Glossy, smooth skin. Seeds are soft, pale and underdeveloped.
  • Underripe – Dull, thin skin. No visible interior seeds.
  • Overripe – Wrinkled skin. Seeds are large, dark and hardened.

Use hand pruners to snip ripe fruits from plants, leaving a short stem attached. Refrigerate immediately and use within 5 days.

Follow these easy eggplant growing tips, and you’ll be enjoying succulent grilled eggplant all season long. So tasty!

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