Welcome back, Guys. Here comes my experience for growing the Eggplant- a delicious vegetable on my own. Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It belongs to the same Solanaceae family as Pepper, Tomatoes, and potatoes. Obviously, an Eggplant is healthy but my point of interest is the taste- Its really delicious. Just cut, slice, marinate and fry it. Ok, Without wasting time lets check out the basics to grow Eggplant from seeds.
Check out my previous post about: How to grow Chili Pepper plants faster from seeds
Eggplant- What is it?
It is a fruit and we call it a Vegetable. Eggplant is a fruit, a colorful fruit. Some of these are Round, some are long, short, thin, fat & yes all of them taste different. Eggplants come in a variety of colors- purple is the most popular other than yellow, white, green, and some striped varieties. They are native to a tropical climate like India.
Do You Know?– Eggplants are also called Brinjal or Baigan in their native country.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Eggplant
- Eggplants love the warm humid climate. These are tropical fruiting plants so they can survive in hot summer conditions better than cold regions. The ideal temperature for eggplant is 30-degree Celsius or 86 Fahrenheit.
- Eggplant like slightly acidic soil. It means the ideal soil ph for Eggplant is 5.5 to 6.8 ph up to 7Ph (Neutral Soil). You can easily maintain this using homemade organic compost.
- The soil should be porous and well-drained. The texture and moisture retention of soil is very important for growing eggplants. You should always keep the soil moist & fertilized. Never overwater or let the soil completely dry for too long.
- Eggplant is a heavy feeder. This means your plant will need regular feeding. You should prepare the potting soil with at least 30-40% organic aged compost and manure. This will ease your work a lot. It will need some extra nutrients but we will discuss that later.
- Eggplant is a tropical plant. So it will need at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight. The growth of the plant and the development of the flowers, and especially the fruit size is related to the amount of sunlight it receives. In simple words, the amount of sunlight is proportional to the growth you will observe in your eggplants.
You will need these items…
- Some healthy Eggplant seeds. I used an F1 hybrid variety of seeds of Purple eggplant. You can check out the latest price on Amazon.
- Potting soil mix.
- Organic Compost. You can use Cowdung compost or Vermiculite.
- Some small containers or a seedling tray.
- Seaweed Extract or Fish Emulsion or compost tea.
- Neem oil, insecticidal liquid soap, or any contact fungicide.
- Some small garden tools and a spray bottle, you may have one.
- 5 or 10-gallon Containers to grow Eggplants.
Let me clear it first, This not the best arrangement. I have done this just for my terrace garden. You should prepare according to your need and availability of resources.
First, start with selecting the variety of Eggplant of your choice. Some people like the round while others like the long one. Sometimes color also makes the difference. I have started with long purple Fi variety. Always ask the garden store salesman about the viability and the adaptability of seeds in your area.
Generally, Eggplant seeds are viable to grow for at most 4 years of harvesting. Some people say these seeds can survive for 5 years. But, In my experience, You should only buy seeds not older than 2 years. Why wasting money on the old if you can have the fresh one.
Next, you Start Preparing the Soil. Prepare your soil at least 2 weeks before sowing the seeds. You should read How to make potting soil for indoor plants?
How to prepare the soil for Eggplant seed germination?
- Mix 40% Aged Compost with 40% Garden Soil and 20% Cocopeat. If you don’t have cocopeat then add 10% river sand with 10% Vermiculite.
- Dry the soil in full sun for 4-5 days. Sunday to Sunday cycle is best for soil preparation. Start in one and end in next Sunday.
- Fill the seedling tray or small 4-inch plastic pots up to the top, just leave 1/2 inch space on the top. The Soil should be well-drained and evenly distributed in the container. There should be no big air pocket left in the soil.
- You can mix some cinnamon and Turmeric powder or a pinch of fungicide to the topsoil. This will prevent pest or fungal attack on the new seedlings.
- Spray some water to make it moist and leave the mixture to dry for 3-4 days.
- If you are following the Sunday-Sunday rule then You should be ready to sow seed till next Friday.
When To Grow Eggplants?
Eggplants are summer vegetables. They will start flowing in spring and keep fruiting till the fall. Eggplants are perennial in a tropical climate but they are mostly cultivated as annuals. The taste and quality of fruits degrade with time so annual cropping is better for eggplants.
If you are starting with a store-bought seedling then wait till the risk of frost is over in spring. Also check for the type, variety, and size of the plant before growing.
It is always better to prepare early if planning for seed germination. Start indoors at least 3 weeks before the last frost. This provides time for the seedlings to develop before transplantation. Wait for the soil temperature to increase above 16-18 degrees Celcius or 65 Fahrenheit before taking out.
If you live in Tropical countries then You can start anytime from February to October. There is always an eggplant variety available to grow.
You can grow Eggplants from Spring till late summers. If you have a greenhouse or poly-house for your plants then frost is not a big problem for your Eggplants.
How to germinate Eggplant seeds?
Eggplant seeds are smaller than pepper seeds. These seeds are tiny flat white seeds just like pepper or tomato seeds but smaller in size. A single eggplant can produce 100s or 1000s of viable healthy seeds. These seeds can be used for the next 4-5 years. Before Starting seed germination lets do the revision.
Basic Requirements for Eggplant Growth
Temperature Range: 18-33 C or 65-86 F
Soil Ph: 5.5-6.8
Soil Texture: Well Drained Soil mix with good water retention.
Sunlight: 4-5 Hours for Seed germination & 8-10 hours for proper fruiting.
You can germinate Eggplant seeds in a damp paper towel or just by sowing in the soil mix. I’ll discuss both.
The Paper Towel Method of seed Germination
- Take 1 or 2 clean paper towels or napkins. Moist it with drinking water.
- Sprinkle 10-15 Eggplant seeds in a wet paper towel.
- Wrap it up or put another towel over it. The seeds should be covered properly.
- Place the damp paper towel with seeds inside a plastic zip bag. You can use any polybag for this purpose, just make it airtight.
- Leave it over the refrigerator, kitchen shelf, or under a window sill for the next 4-5 days.
- Most of the seeds will germinate within 7 days. The temperature should be above 22-degree Celcius or 72 Fahrenheit.
- The only problem with this method is, getting the germinated seeds out for growing. You have to be gentle and really careful while taking each seed out for planting in the soil mix. This is why I prefer the Next Method.
The Simple Sowing Method for Seed Germination
- I hope you have prepared the soil mix in advance. If not yet prepared then Buy a premade soil mix online.
- Make Few 1/4 inch holes in the soil each 1-inch apart. Proper spacing is very important. You can get more healthy seedling with fewer seeds just by spacing them correctly. Use your pen or little finger to make these holes.
- Put only 1 or 2 seeds in each hole. Even if you are using a small 4-inch pot, put only 2 seeds in each pot.
- Cover the seeds with some soil mix. Level the soil carefully and water to make it moist.
- Place the Seedling tray or pots over a heating mat, especially if you are living in cold zones. The soil temperature should be above 18-degree Celcius or 65 F to start germination. An increase in temperature will increase the rate of germination.
- Eggplant seeds will start germinating from the 5th day onwards. Sometimes it may take 7-10 days for proper germination, so wait before rejecting.
Caring for Eggplant seedlings after Germination
The Eggplant seedlings will be ready to transplant in 5-6 weeks. Sometimes it may take 8 weeks to get the proper height. So before transplantation, you have to care these tiny seedlings for at least 1 and a half months. Here’s what I have done for my plants.
- Water regularly with proper care. This is the time when you first need a sprayer. Spraying water is best for Eggplant seedlings. They are very soft and delicate, strong water flow can break the stem body. So You can either use a sprayer or a bottom feeder to provide water to the seedlings.
- Eggplant is a heavy feeder. Therefore, you should feed the seedlings once they develop their first two true leaves. Mostly it will take 3 weeks or 15-20 days for these plants to develop true leaves. Till then they will feed on the nutrients available in the soil.
- From the 3rd or 4th week feed your plants with liquid fertilizers like compost tea or seaweed or fish emulsion. Start with low (1/2 of recommended) concentration and increase the dose after 1 or 2 weeks. Avoid any kind of chemical fertilizer for at least 3 weeks after germination.
- From the 4th week, You can also feed the plants with Water-soluble NPK 10-19-19 or NPK 19-19-19. Don’t use Nitrogen heavy fertilizers or your plant may get bushy without any flowers.
- Slow down fertilization from 6th week. Let the plants adjust and harden to the climate.
- Spray your seedlings with a solution of Neem oil, insecticidal soap, and water once every week. This will prevent any pest attack.
- If you have followed everything correctly then Your plants are healthy and ready to transplant by 6th week.
- Mean While You may have to move or repot seedlings to bigger containers. This is why I prefer a seedling tray with at least 5-inch depth. A 4-inch plastic pot will handle the plant for this whole time.
How to Transplant an Eggplant Seedling?
- Take seedling with 4-5 inch height or at least 4 true leaves.
- If the seedling is in a tray then take out each one with the complete root ball. At least try not to break the main root system.
- Transplant each seedling in a 3 or 4inch pot for 15 days(2 weeks). If you have a seedling in a 4-ich pot then skip this step.
- Use a soil mixture of 60% garden soil and 30% compost and 10% river sand for transplanting the eggplants.
- After 15 days repot the best seedling into a bigger 8-10 inch pots. You can keep the seedling in an 8-inch pot for 15-25 days or plant it directly into raised beds.
- Keep a uniform Spacing of 24 cm or 12-inches between each plant in a raised garden beds. Pot only 1 Eggplant in 10-14-inch containers.
- For Container or terrace gardening, use a 5 or 10-gallon container i.e., 4-8 liter box to grow mature eggplant. The eggplants can grow bigger and bushier so the bigger pot is always better.
How to grow eggplant from seed?
Starting for seeds to transplantation, it will take 5-6 weeks for an Eggplant to mature. If you are starting with seeds then you may have to wait for 100-120 days after termination to get the fruits. Plants grown from store-bought seedlings can start fruiting in 70 days.
You have read my schedule for Soil Preparation, Eggplant seed germination, Caring, and Seedling transplantation. now it is time to see what to do to get lots of fruits in each Plant of an eggplant.
- Starting with final transplantation. Leave the plant to acclimatize for 7-10 days. You should place the pot in moderate sunlight for this duration.
- Start feeding the plants after 10-15 days of transplantation. Use low nitrogen and high phosphorus, Potassium based fertilizer.
- After 3-4 failed attempts, I have finalized the best fertilizer mix for eggplant. Add 1/2pound or 200 gm of Vermiculite or compost with 1-2 tea-spoon full of NPK 10-20-20. lookout for low nitrogen in NPK before purchase. Feed every plant with 2-3 teaspoons of this mixture once in 15 days.
- Watering is necessary after each and every fertilization schedule. Never let the soil get completely dry or become soggy.
- Spray the plants with neem oil solution or fungicidal solution to prevent pest attacks.
- Eggplant is a member of the Solanaceae family. Just like tomatoes, these plants also develop lots of succors. This will lead the plant to become bushier but ultimately reduce the size of fruiting. If you are growing eggplants for the quantity, not quality then it’s ok.
- For bigger and healthier fruits, you would always reduce the number of fruiting branches. Regular pruning of eggplant can help you solving may problems other than Fruit size.
- Eggplant can really become heavy so provide proper support to the entire plant. You can use garden wire nets or stick frames to support the fruits and branches. Use a net with bigger holes so that the fruits can adjust with the spacing.
- Always Harvest the fruits in Time. Pick each eggplant using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors. Leave some stem attached to the fruits while picking. A clean shiny dark eggplant is good to eat.
- Eggplant will start developing mature seeds and turn dull in color. Sometimes ripe eggplant can turn yellow or orange. Such eggplant is not good for eating. Else you can collect and harvest seeds from these mature eggplants.
Problems With Growing Eggplant
Pest and Fungal infection is the biggest problem for eggplant gardeners. Other than These Low flowering, dropping of flowers and fruits and yellowing of premature fruits are some problems.
Common Pest in Eggplants
- Spider mites
- Tomato Hornbugs
- Leaf & Stem Borers
The first and easiest control measure is neem oil spray. It contains azadirachtin an organic pesticide. You can also use an insecticidal soap solution to control the pest attack. If the infestation is severe then use a chemical pesticide and fungicide to control the infestation.
If the problem is out of control then the best option is to remove the infected plant. This is the best option to protect other healthy plants. Also read Common Succulent Problem: 6 Pests and their treatment.
Low Flowering or fruiting problem with Eggplant
If an eggplant produces very few flowers then there may be some problem. Observe your plants carefully.
- First, check for the usual growth pattern of the plant. If one plant is shorter than other then it is an obvious growth problem. Try applying some fertilizer and place the plant in direct sunlight.
- If the plant growth is good then it is the problem of low sunlight or excess of nitrates in the soil. Just place the plant in direct sunlight and avoid over-fertilization and overwatering. Use only phosphorus-based fertilizers for best blooming.
- If the plant is having flowers but no fruit is developing then it is a problem of improper fertilization. Just give gentle shake to fertilize the flowers.
- If fruits are dropping then use fruit booster enzymes.
- Always care for proper drainage. Waterlogging is probably the biggest problem with flowering and fruiting in the Eggplants.
The yellowing problem of Fruits
The yellowing of fruits in eggplant is mostly due to stress and shock due to climatic factors. Sometimes overheat during summer days can cause premature yellowing of fruit.
Proper use of shed can be useful to prevent the yellowing of fruits. Controlling temperature, moisture, and sunlight can solve this problem. Premature yellowing of eggplant fruit is common with old plants. Gowing fresh seedlings every season is effective in this situation.
Most of the times your keen observation and little awareness is enough to save your eggplants.
I hope my experience will help you out to grow eggplant from seeds. There are 100s of varieties to choose from. Always confirm the compatibility of the eggplant variety with your local climatic condition.
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