Lets us start with the procedure of growing eggplants.
1) Choosing The Right Variety for Growing Eggplants
Eggplants range in color from deep purple or black to lavender to white, There are also yellow, red, and even green eggplants. Fruits may be round, oval, or elongated; bite-size to huge.
Choose early-bearing types if you have a short season of growing eggplants. If you’ve had past problems with the tobacco mosaic virus on any tomato-family plants in your garden, look for eggplant cultivars that resist the virus.
2) Site and Soil For Growing Eggplants
Tomatoes need at least six to eight hours of direct sun each day. (In areas with very hot summers, provide partial shade.) Tomatoes do best in a loose, rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 5,5 and 6.8.
If you’ve had disease problems with past tomato crops, it’s best to select a site where tomato, potato, eggplant, and pepper have not been planted for the past two or three years.
Add generous amounts of compost or well-rotted manure, and prepare rows. if your soil is heavy or your growing season is short, plant your tomatoes in raised beds.
a. When to plant
Heat-loving eggplants require a long, warm growing season. Start seedlings indoors six to eight weeks before your last expected frost.
b. How much to plant
Grow two or three plants for each person in your family. One 0.25-gram packet (50 to 60 seeds) will produce enough plants to cover at least 100 feet of row.
c. Starting plants indoors
- Soak seeds in compost tea for 15 minutes or overnight to speed germination and reduce disease problems.
- Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in a soilless medium such as vermiculite.
- The soil temperature must be at least 70°F; 85°F is ideal.
Seeds germinate in 5 to 12 days. Seedlings thrive in full sun and air temperatures above 70°F. When the first true leaves appear, move flat-sown seedlings to individual pots.
e. Planting seeds outdoors
Planting outdoors. Transplant seedlings when the soil is at least 60°F and the air temperature is consistently above 70°F. Put 1 cup each of kelp meal and bonemeal in each planting hole.
4) Seasonal Care
Follow these care guide-lines to produce vigorous plants and good-size fruits.
Cover soil with black plastic: Several weeks before transplanting, use black plastic to speed soil warming.
Cover plants with floating row cover: Protect transplants from cool weather or Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles, and other pests by covering the plants with row cover. Remove the cover once night temperatures are consistently warm or plants are too large to fit undercover.
Fertilize: Give each plant 1 cup of compost tea or fish fertilizer every week until the first blossoms appear.
Water: Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, at all times.
Mulch: If you didn’t plant through black plastic, apply 8 to 10 inches of straw when the soil is thoroughly warm.
Stake: If your plants get top-heavy, insert stakes to keep them upright.
Clean up: Once frost kills the plants, till them under or pull them up and add them to the compost pile.
5) Harvesting Eggplants
Eggplant is ready to pick 55 to 70 days after transplanting. Begin harvesting when the fruit is large enough to use but before the seeds start to harden. The skin should be glossy; fruit that looks dull is usually past prime.
Hold the fruit with one hand while cutting the stem with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Pick often to keep the plants productive. For best taste, cook immediately after harvesting. You can refrigerate eggplant for up to two weeks.
6) Extending The Season
Eggplants thrive in heat and sulk in cool weather. Prewarm soil with black plastic.
Cover plants with floating row cover and use Wallo Water to give trans-plants extra heat. Or make a mini-greenhouse over your eggplants with hoops and slitted clear plastic row cover. Use it in early summer and early fall or whenever day-time temperatures are less than 80°F. If your summers aren’t hot, you may leave it on all season.
7) Solving Eggplant Problems
Use this table to identify problems on your tomato plants. Scan the list of symptoms to find the description that most closely matches what you see in your garden. Then refer across the table to learn the cause and the recommended solutions.
For some disease problems, by the time you see the damage, there is little you can do to fix things in the current season. In the future, plant resistant cultivars. If you can, plan a 3 to 4-year rotation of tomato-family crops.
FLOWER AND FRUIT PROBLEMS
|1||Blossoms appear, but few or no fruit develop||Cold nights or excessive heat; Excess nitrogen||Early-season flowers may drop if nights are colder than 55°F. In summer, flowers may drop if temperatures exceed 90’F. When the weather changes.|
New blossoms should develop normal fruit. Nitrogen can stimulate leaf and stem growth and not fruit. Do not fertilize, and see if fruit development improves.
|2||Fruit distorted at blossom end (cat-faced), otherwise healthy||Cold injury to flower buds||Cat-faced fruit is edible. Fruit that develops later in the season should be normal. In the future, wait to plant until the weather is settled and warm.|
|3||Sunken, brownish-black area starting at the blossom end of the fruit||Blossom-end rot||The condition is caused by poor calcium uptake, which is related to an uneven supply of water. Mulch plants and be sure they are deeply and evenly watered.|
For next season, ensure soil is fertile, with adequate calcium levels, and plant blossom-end rot—resistant cultivars
|4||Deep holes chewed in fruit; caterpillars may be present||Tomato fruitworms; Hornworms||Undamaged portions of fruit are edible. Handpick fruit-worms; spray BTK weekly for fruitworms if infestations are severe.|
Handpick hornworms daily. If many young hornworms are present, spray BTK every few days.
|5||Fruit with small, water-soaked spots that later become scabby||Bacterial spot (bacterial blight)||The fruit is edible but use it promptly because it may rot quickly. Collect and destroy all crop debris. In the future, plant disease-free seed.|
|6||Mottled, rough, or deformed fruit||Tobacco mosaic virus; Other viruses||The fruit is usually still edible though of lower quality. Once plants are infected, there is no cure. Pull and destroy all affected plants.|
Wash hands, preferably in milk, and disinfect tools before handling healthy plants. In the future. plant cultivars with multiple-virus tolerance.
|7||Concentric cracks in fruit around the stem||Growth cracks||Cracked fruit is edible. Harvest cracked fruit immediately because it may rot quickly. Pick all fruit as soon as it ripens to prevent cracking.|
Keep soil evenly moist and mulch plants to help prevent fruit cracking.
|8||Tan, leathery patches on side of fruit exposed to the sun||Sunscald||Undamaged parts of the fruit are edible; use ripe fruit immediately because it will rot quickly. Feed and water plants to stimulate vigorous leaf growth so that fruit won’t be exposed.|
|9||Dark tunnels in fruit; tiny, mottled worms in the fruit||Tomato pinworms||This pest occurs mostly in California. Undamaged parts of the fruit are edible. Plan to remove or till under all crop debris and eliminate all tomatoes in the area for at least 3 months before growing another crop.|
LEAF AND WHOLE PLANT PROBLEMS
|1||Seedlings chewed off or girdled at soil level||Cutworms||Search for and destroy cutworms hiding in the soil around the base of damaged plants. Use a flashlight at night to catch feeding cutworms.|
Where infestations are severe, drench the soil with parasitic nematodes, spray neem on plants, or use a bran bait mixed with BTK sprinkled between rows.
|2||Sticky coating on leaves; tiny, white insects fly around leaves||Whiteflies||A light infestation does little damage. Black mold may grow on leaves and fruit; wash mold from leaves with water, wipe it off picked fruit.|
To control heavy infestations, spray insecticidal soap, neem, or pyrethrins frequently. Pick and destroy heavily infested lower leaves, where immature whitefly scales develop. In northern areas, plan to grow plants from seed to avoid bringing in whiteflies on purchased transplants.
|3||Gray-brown spots with concentric rings on leaves||Early blight||Plants stressed by drought, deficiency, or insect damage are most affected. Spray copper or Bordeaux mixture at first sign of disease; repeat every 7-10 days.|
|4||Leaves curl down; small, pink. green, or black insects on leaf undersides||Aphids||Native parasites and predators usually keep aphids in check. For a severe infestation, wash aphids from plants with a strong stream of water, or spray insecticidal soap, neem, or pyrethrins.|
|5||Leaves eaten, leaving only stems; large caterpillars on plants||Hornworms||Light feeding won’t lower yield. Handpick hornworms daily. If many young caterpillars are present, spray BTK every few days|
|6||Leaves with gray, water-soaked patches; white mold grows on the lower side of spots in moist weather||Late blight||This disease is most severe in the North and East, especially in cool, wet weather. Spray copper or Bordeaux mixture at first sign of disease; repeat every 7-10 days. Collect and destroy all crop debris and tomato-family weeds.|
|7||Dark brown spots on leaves||Bacterial spot||To reduce the spread of the disease, spray with copper as soon as you see symptoms; repeat every 1-2 weeks (may not be effective in wet weather). Collect and destroy all crop debris. In the future, plant disease-free seed.|
|8||Lower leaves and stem turn bronze with a greasy sheen; leaves dry up||Tomato russet mites||Russet mites are microscopic; it’s easy to mistake their feeding damage for a disease. Spray or dust sulfur to control mites but don’t apply it too often or plants may suffer damage.|
|9||Mottled, puckered areas on leaves; growth may be stunted||Tobacco mosaic virus; Various viruses||Once plants are infected by a virus, there is no cure. Pull and destroy all affected plants. Wash hands, preferably in milk, and disinfect tools before handling healthy plants. In the future, plant cultivars with multiple-virus tolerance.|
|10||Light-colored, water-soaked spots with dark margins on leaves||Bacterial spot; Cercospora leaf spot||To reduce the spread of the disease, spray with copper as soon as you see symptoms; repeat every 1-2 weeks (may not be effective in wet weather). Collect and destroy all crop debris. In the future, plant disease-free seed.|
|11||Small round holes in leaves||Flea beetles||Leaf injury by these small, black, jumping insects causes little damage unless plants are small.|
If the damage is severe, spray rotenone or pyrethrins to control adults; drench the soil with parasitic nematodes to control larvae.
|12||Leaves speckled with pale yellow dots; fine webbing on leaves||Spider mites||Spider mites thrive in hot, dry weather. Native predators usually keep mites in check. Wash mites from leaves with a strong stream of water weekly. Spray insecticidal soap if infestations are severe.|
|13||Plants grow poorly; lower leaves turn yellow; roots with swollen galls||Root-knot; nematodes||Pull and destroy severely infected plants and give remaining plants extra care to salvage some harvest. In warm regions, solarizing the soil will suppress nematodes.|
In the future, plant nematode-resistant cultivars and practice a 3 to 5-year rotation with nonsusceptible crops (corn, onion, small grains)
|14||The plant gradually wilts, leaves turn yellow; inside of lower stems brown or yellow||Verticillium wilt; Fusarium wilt||Nematode injury increases susceptibility to wilts. Pull and destroy infected plants and remove crop debris in the fall.|
Solarizing the soil will help control these disease organisms in warm regions. In the future, plant verticillium/fusarium/ nematode-resistant (VFN) cultivars