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Grow Vegetables – Eggplants

Tips for an abundant eggplant harvest

 

Grow Eggplant

Eggplants (aubergines) have been prolific this year in my vegetable garden. I have received many queries from people to ask how we have managed to have such a large harvest. These are my tips for planting, growing and using eggplants grown in your backyard vegetable garden.

How to plant eggplant:

Newly planted eggplants

  • Plant 30-40 cm apart in Spring
  • Plant once chance of frost has passed as eggplants are sensitive to cold and frost. They require consistent temperatures over 20 degrees to produce well.
  • Soil should be fertile and well drained.
  • Plant in a sheltered,  protected position
  • Water regularly rather than on an ad-hoc basis and always at the base of the plant rather than from above.

The plants can be grown in a large pot and as they are perennials they can be cut back after production and kept in a sheltered position over the cooler months to regenerate again the following Summer. The benefit of this is that they will start producing fruit much quicker than any plants put into the garden in Spring, or the end of Winter.

Companion Plants:  

  • beans, potato, marjoram

I had none of those planted around mine but I did have sage and marigolds all around them. The flowers from both of these plants attract the bees and I am sure that they had a significant impact on my large harvest volume this year.

The plants will grow double in size within two months and commence producing fruit soon after.

2 months growth - eggplants

I have tried growing numerous varieties of eggplant and have found those most suited to my climate and garden are the following: Rosa Bianca, Black Beauty and Bonica.

Eggplant Rosa Bianca

How to grow eggplants:

  • Fertilize the plant when the fruit sets and again once the fruit ripens.  This year my plants have been fed with compost, sheep and chicken manure.
  • As the fruit is harvested fertilize again with a liquid seaweed based solution or similar to allow the plant to recover and continue to produce.
  • If your plants are heavy with fruit they may require staking for support.
  • Mulch around the base of the plant as Summer progresses to ensure that the plant retains moisture.
  • Continue to water on a regular basis, this is said to prevent the fruit from developing a bitter flavor.
  • The leaves of the plant may cause skin irritation, it is best to wear gloves at all times when in the garden.

Black Beauty Eggplant

When to harvest eggplant:

  • Harvest when the skin is shiny and the size is desirable.
  • Cut the fruit from the plant, do not try to twist it off or pull it as that will result in damage to the plant.
  • Wear gloves when harvesting fruit as there are tiny spikes that are across the top of the fruit on the green leafy section that HURT if they prick you.
  • Don’t leave the fruit on the plant as it will grow bitter.

Eggplant producing fruit

Fresh eggplant

Eggplant harvest

One of the benefits of growing your own eggplants is that they are very quick to prepare and are a versatile addition to a wide variety of meals. I have never had to salt my homegrown eggplants prior to cooking, I have not experienced a bitter one to date. I simply wash the skin and slice as required prior to cooking – no other preparation is required. You may remove the skin if desired but it is not a requirement. Do remove the leaves at the top of the fruit though. The mild flavor of eggplant is perfectly suited to it’s Summer garden companions basil, tomato, zucchini, capsicum and chilli. We enjoy it paired with pork in Asian style dishes and it works beautifully when paired with beef in Italian style recipes. Eggplant is valuable to use in vegetarian dishes as it holds the flavor of other ingredients beautifully and is bulky enough to be satisfying as a main meal.

Some of our favorite eggplant recipes include:

Mexican Eggplant 

Ginger Tamari Eggplant Rolls

Szechuan Pork Stuffed Eggplant

Eggplant Involtini

Honey Baked Eggplant Wedges

Ginger and Tamari Eggplant Egg Rolls

Eggplant Mexican

Are you growing eggplant? Do you have any tips to add? I would love to hear them if you do via the comments below.

Kyrstie

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Grant nowell February 13, 2015, 5:09 pm

    Wow, some great tip there and tasty recipes. My partner had some success with them this year but now where near your magnificent crop, they look so healthy too and marigold plants are just great too.

    • Kyrstie Barcak February 13, 2015, 9:19 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by Grant. I am happy to hear that your garden is progressing well.

  • erin @ she cooks, she gardens February 13, 2015, 5:58 pm

    That’s quite the haul you’ve got there, Kyrstie. Well done!

    Have you tried making eggplant pickle before? A friend of mine makes it every year and it just divine. Can send you a recipe if you’re looking for another way to use up the excess.xx

    • Kyrstie Barcak February 13, 2015, 9:18 pm

      I have been giving lots away this week but that would be fabulous thanks Erin for the offer.

    • Dolly Stevens February 14, 2015, 5:11 am

      I just stumbled on ur blog and I am loving it!! I am a fan of Japanese white eggplant!! Its divine and so easy to cook. Its just reallybhard to find and last year I couldn’t find it at all ,not even seeds. If you have any ideas on where I can get some I would greatly appreciate it and also would LOVE tjhe recipe mentioned for pickled eggplant!! I had it many yes ago in phila. And really loved it and could never find a recipe.tx and I look forward to hearing from you

      • Kyrstie Barcak February 14, 2015, 10:46 pm

        Hi Dolly, thanks for dropping by. I have not come across that variety of eggplant I’m sorry. I usually use eden seeds or green harvest seeds and neither of them stocked a Japanese white eggplant. Good luck with your search and the eggplant recipe is coming soon. If you sign up for email updates or follow on FB you will see when it is published. Thanks again. Kyrstie

  • The Life of Clare February 14, 2015, 6:51 am

    I can’t wait to get back it to gardening! What an awesome harvest! I just have a question, did you plant seed directly into the ground or seedlings?

    • Kyrstie Barcak February 14, 2015, 10:39 pm

      Hi Clare, these ones in the picture were seedlings. The Black Beauties I grew from seed. They will be just ready to start harvesting in the next week or so which shows a huge difference in timing for the two. I will keep some of both in the ground across Winter to verify how well they produce in year 2.

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