At a glance
Ease of culture: Easy
Where: All regions
Best climate: Warm to hot conditions
When: Spring and summer
Harvest: 3 months
• Eggplant is a warm-season crop. It needs temperatures between 21 and 30°C to do well
• It will grow year round in the tropics and most of the year in subtropical areas
• In temperate and cool zones, eggplant is grown from mid-spring to mid-autumn. Planting your crop in front of a north-facing wall will provide some of the additional heat they like, and extend your growing season
• Eggplant performs best in a rich, organic, free draining soil.
• Before planting, dig over the ground to a spade deep and fork in plenty of well-rotted compost and manure, and then mound the soil to improve the drainage.
• Eggplants prefer slightly acid conditions (ph 5.5-7) so there’s no need to add lime unless your soil is very acid. If your pH is higher than 7, add powdered sulphur to lower the pH.
Box: Family Medical History
Eggplants are in the same family (Solanaceae) as tomato, potato and capsicum, and share many of the same pests and diseases. To avoid build-up of pest and disease problems, avoid planting eggplant as an immediate follow up in beds where their cousins have been. Where possible, always rest these areas from other Solanaceae for a few seasons.
• Planting is best done in spring and summer in most areas, but can also be done in autumn in the tropics.
• In cooler areas, it's wise to plant as soon as the weather warms to take full advantage of the warmer months and maximise your returns. Also, give yourself a head start and plant seedlings rather than seed, which can take up to 3 weeks to germinate.
• While slow, eggplants grow readily from seed sown in pots of quality seed-raising mix, and allow you to grow interesting varieties not readily available as seedlings. Place pots in a warm protected spot and keep the mix moist until the seeds germinate. Seedlings can be planted out when 10cm tall, spaced 50cm apart.
Watering and fertilising
• Eggplants must be watered deeply and regularly during hot weather. Dry soil will lead to poor fruit production and splitting
• Mulch plants well to retain moisture
• Be careful not to overwater, which can cause root rot
• Fertilise with a balanced organic fertiliser every six weeks
• Eggplants start cropping 10-12 weeks after planting and continue fruiting while the weather is warm
• Fruit are ready to pick when firm and glossy
• Harvest young. Older fruit are bitter and contain large seeds, which make eating gritty
• Use secateurs to remove fruit to avoid plant damage