Tips for an abundant eggplant harvest
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Are you growing eggplant? Do you have any tips to add? I would love to hear them if you do via the comments below.
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