How do you grow eggplant?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Mark: Growing eggplant in the home garden is very rewarding and a tasty treat to put on the summer dinner menu. Eggplants are considered warm-season vegetables. This means that they should only be planted after the frost-free date has passed and the soil has had time to warm up. They are very susceptible to cold damage so planting them at the right time is the first step to a healthy crop. Other factors to consider when planting eggplant are the amount of available sunlight, nutrients, and space. As with other vegetables, eggplant requires a minimum of six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. The soil should be nutrient-rich and not too compacted to allow for good air circulation for the roots. Depending on cultivar, eggplants should be spaced a good 30-36 inches apart. Smaller fruited types will require less space, so when you purchase your starter plants make sure they have a grower’s tag in them so you will know exactly what you are growing and how much space they will need. Purchasing transplants as opposed to growing from seed is a better option for Kentucky gardeners because of the length of our growing season. Seeds will take eight to 10 weeks to produce a starter plant, and 50 to 80 days to harvest. For now, if you have not had your soil tested you might consider having this done before the planting season arrives. Contact your County Cooperative Extension Service for more information on having your soil tested. The Allen County phone number is (270) 237-3146.