Eggplants are short-lived perennial vegetables, but are usually cultivated as annuals. Also known as aubergines, eggplants differ mainly in size, shape and color of the fruits. Eggplants are tropical and subtropical, requiring relatively high temperatures. Related crop include tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.
- Start plants indoors 2 months before the soil warms up or buy nursery transplants just before planting.
- Place 3 to 4 inch tall seedlings 24 to 30 inches apart in well-prepared beds.
- Pinch out the terminal growing points for a bushier plant.
- Stake plants over 24 inches tall.
- Water well and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
- For bigger fruits, restrict to five or six per plant.
- Harvest 16 to 24 weeks after sowing when the skin of the fruit is shiny and unwrinkled.
- Cut the fruit close to the stem, but leaving about an inch of it attached.
- Eggplants can be stored for up to two weeks in humid conditions no lower than 50 degrees F.
- 'Black Beauty'
- 'Easter Egg'
- 'Little Fingers'
Wit & Wisdom
At one time, women in the Orient used a black dye to stain their teeth a gun metal gray. The dye probably came from the same dark purple eggplant we see in the marketplace today.