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Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Eggplant

A Guide to Gardening, Growing and Harvesting Edibles

-- By Jenny Sigler, SparkPeople Contributor

Eggplants can come in a variety of shades, from lavender to emerald green. The most common variety is the deep purple and oval-shaped beauties we see at the grocery store.

Hardiness Zones:
9-11 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks prior to planting outdoors in mid to late spring (or 2-3 weeks after the last frost). Starter plants are also available from nurseries and home improvement stores, and can be planted directly into the soil when indicated above.

Conditions:
Before planting, work a lot of compost, as well as moderate amount of organic fertilizer such as blood meal, bat guano, or well-rotted manure, into the soil. Eggplant needs a lot of sun to thrive.

Space Needed:
Seedlings should be spaced 18-24 inches apart in rows about 3 feet apart.

Maintenance:
Eggplants are heavy feeders and do well with regular fertilization while growing. They also require a lot of water; eggplant becomes bitter if under-watered. Flea beetles and spider mites are a common problem on eggplant. If infestation occurs, spray with an all-natural insecticide spray.

When to Harvest:
Harvest when eggplants are shiny and firm. If the skin turns dull, they have been on the vine too long.

Average Yield: Each plant can yield about 2 pounds of eggplant.

Continuous Yield:
Yes

Life Cycle:
Annual

Difficulty Rating (1-5): 3

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