HOW TO GROW EGGPLANT:
Eggplant is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and one of the most beautiful too. It is a soft and delectable vegetable that is popular with home gardeners, and it is a prolific producer. There are many varieties you can grow at home that you will never see at the supermarket. Here’s a tip: make sure and rotate your crop from year to year, or like tomatoes, eggplant will deplete your soil if you don’t.
One of biggest keys to success in organic gardening is the condition of the soil. There needs to be adequate organic matter to hold moisture and nutrients. And at the same time, the soil needs to be loose enough for good aeration and drainage, which will help promote strong root development.
Eggplant is easy to grow if your soil has the proper nutrients. People always assume their soil is average, but unless you have a soil test it is just a guess. More often than not, it is necessary to amend the soil to achieve optimum pH balances, as well as the proper levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Testing your soil is ideal, and we recommend a soil test every two to three years to check your phosphorus and pH, as well as nitrate and potassium levels, to ensure the best crop possible. It is very important that your phosphorous to nitrate ratio is correct. Too much nitrates will produce leaves but not fruit. If you aren’t testing your soil, at a bare minimum, before planting anything, work in at least 2-4” of organic mulch and at least one-half inch of finished compost into your topsoil. For eggplant, make sure you have plenty of phosphorus, bone meal or soft rock phosphorus in your soil. If you suspect your soil is less than ideal and possibly a little low on phosphorus, mix in a cup of Mega-Mator or Mega-Veggie into every 100 sq. ft. of soil. This 100% organic soil amendment has an ample supply of phosphorus and will make up for a lot of deficiencies.
Also, mulching with compost or straw will help keep the soil moist and also help to feed the plant and prevent weeds. Don't mulch over 3-4" because this might prevent oxygen from entering the soil and could cause root rot.
If planting from seed: When planting eggplant, wait until the soil has warmed and two weeks after all frost danger is over. Then plant 2-3 seeds in each 1/2” deep hole, and water with seaweed solution. This will help germinate the seed and promote root growth. Space plants 12-18” apart in rows, with 2’ between rows. If planting in raised beds, plant 12” on center. Once seedlings appear, thin to one plant.
If planting seedlings: If you choose to plant seedlings, start indoors two to three weeks before the last anticipated hard frost. When planting outside, either plant them in Walls-of-Water (which will allow you to plant up to 6 weeks earlier), or harden them off first. This is done by placing the seedlings in direct sun for an hour, then placing in the shade. Each following day increase the time in the sun by one hour; repeat this each day until they are in the sun for 6 to 8 hours, which will take a week or so. Make sure they don’t dry out.
If you know there is a chance of hard freeze, bring seedlings inside until freeze is over. When it is safe, leave seedlings outside, placing them next to a building with an overhang and let them get used to nighttime temperatures. The building and overhead cover should give you some protection. After one night outside and they are used to sun, you can plant without shocking the plant. Plant in soil when outside temperatures may go to 32 degrees but mostly stay above freezing.
When planting, plant at the depth of your starts or a little deeper, and use a tablespoon of bone meal in the bottom each planting hole. If you’re Vegan or don’t like to use bone meal, then Mega-Start will work. It’s 100% Organic and animal-free. It is best to root feed with Seaweed right after planting to prevent shock. Seaweed is better for shock prevention than any other product on the market.
After planting, continue to feed seaweed once a week by spraying leaves, and fish emulsion every two weeks through root feeding until harvest. I use a hose sprayer for fish, but just make sure you spray enough so that the roots of the plants are soaked. If fish gets on the leaves, don’t worry, it won’t burn the leaves.
Every 2 weeks, side dress with 2 tablespoons of Mega-Pepe around the base of the plants and water in. Continue the seaweed once a week along with fish emulsion every two weeks. Do not let the soil dry out; soil should be moist but not soggy.
Recommended Schedule for Fertilizing and Amending Soil:
1. Bone Meal or Mega-Start -- at planting
2. Seaweed -- at planting and once a week until harvest
3. Fish Emulsion -- every two weeks after planting until harvest
4. Mega-Pepe -- every two weeks until harvest
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