Growing Eggplant (Aubergines)
If you grow tomatoes, you can grow eggplant. They're needs are very similar. Eggplant grows wild varieties grow in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia. It loves heat. They come in a variety of shapes and colors. The Moors introduce Eggplant to Europe. It has been cultivated for thousands of years.
Eggplant thrives in 75-degree soil and sulk if planted too soon. To raise the soil temperature for early planting, mulch with black plastic or grow in dark-colored containers. Plants grow up to 3 feet tall, with large leaves and purple or white blossoms.
Eggplants can be started from seed indoors 10 to 12 weeks before their ideal planting out date. In northern gardens where the growing season is short, it is important to use early-ripening eggplant varieties and start with large transplants.
Because they are heat loving and need a longer season to grow, it's best to use starter plants when. If using starter plants, leave about 18-24 inches between each plant. Eggplant needs 8-10 hours of direct sunlight. Use a cage or stake as the larger fruit grows, this will prevent the stems from bending or breaking, especially if a strong wind blows.
Flea beetles are the plants worst enemy. They chew holes in the leaves. To prevent this, cover the cover the plant with floating row covers, or use a natural pest repellent.
Harvest the plants when the skin is nice and glossy. If the skin starts to dull, the seeds internally are beginning to mature. This can cause the plant to have a slightly bitter taste.
Once going, they can be prolific. Use in recipes such as Eggplant Parmesan, veggie sandwiches and Baba Ghanoush.