Growing Eggplant:
How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Growing eggplant is a great way to add variety and nutrition to your diet, especially in warmer climates. Those in colder climates will most likely need to grow them in containers. Eggplants need full sun and fertile, well-drained soil in order to flourish.

Eggplant is part of the nightshade family, which means it's a relative to the potato and tomato, though its flavor and uses are quite different. Eggplant has been a staple in the Mediterranean diet for many years, but has recently become quite popular in other parts of the world.

In addition to being a delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be prepared in many ways, eggplant is also a very ornamental plant. For gardeners that lack space, eggplant is easily grown in a container, as well.

Growing Eggplant: Plant Snapshot (Solanum Melongena)

Growing Eggplant
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual - Ready to harvest 60 to 80 days after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Louisiana Long, Comprido Verde Claro, Udmalbet, Japanese Pickling
  • Cold tolerance: Warm Season – Will not survive frost and their seeds will not germinate in cold soil. Plant them at about the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Plants that do not belong to the Nightshade family. Do not rotate with potatoes or tomatoes.
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Beans, Marigold, Pepper, Potato, Spinach, Tarragon, Thyme
    • Avoid: Fennel
Back to top of How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Growing Eggplant: Planting the Seed

Where to Find Planting Supplies...

The following resources offer effective, healthy and/or well-rounded options. Click the links to go there now...

Eggplant is extremely sensitive to cold. For best results, start them indoors six to nine weeks before the last frost if you wish to grow them from seed. You can also choose seedlings from the garden center if you don’t want to start them from seed.

Soak seeds overnight before starting, and give them heat from below, such as from a heat mat, to encourage germination. If you have a heat lamp, now’s the time to use it.

Snapshot: Planting Eggplant

  • Planting depth: about ¼ inches deep for seed (6 mm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 18 to 24 inches (45 to 61 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 80 to 90 degrees F (26.6 to 32.2 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 7 to 14 days
Back to top of How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Growing Eggplant: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

Where to Find Growing & Plant Care Supplies...

For effectice, healthy and/or well-rounded options, click the following links...

When you transplant your seedlings to the garden or container, or when your eggplants sown from seed become at least 3 inches tall, they should be mulched. It's also a good idea to interplant an early crop – such as lettuce - between the eggplants.

When you see blooms, apply liquid organic garden fertilizer for vegetables. It should be reapplied monthly until harvest and plants should receive about 1 to 1 ½ inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) of water each week.

Snapshot: Growing Eggplant

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.5 to 7.0
  • Growing soil temperature: 70+ degrees F; 85+ is ideal (21+ degrees C; 29+ C is ideal)
Back to top of How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Growing Eggplant: Harvesting Time

Eggplant should be harvested when fruits are 6 to 8 inches long and the skin has a high gloss. Use a sharp knife to cut the fruits from the plant.

When the fruits become dull or brown, they are too mature for use. Three weeks before the first expected frost, start pinching back any blooms that appear. Since the fruits from those blooms would not have time to mature anyway, it's better for the plant to expend its energy on maturing existing fruits.

Snapshot: Harvesting Eggplant

  • Time to harvest: 60 to 80 days, depending upon variety
Back to top of How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Storing Eggplant and Freezing Eggplant

Eggplant can be stored in the warmest part of the refrigerator for about a week. Unfortunately, they do not store well long term.

Snapshot: Storing Eggplant & Freezing Eggplant

  • Snapshot: Storing Eggplant & Freezing Eggplant
  • Storage temperature: 40- 50 degrees F (4.4 to 10 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 80 to 90% relative humidity
  • Storage life (above conditions): 7 days
  • Storage life (frozen): about 3 months, if cooked first
  • Seed longevity: About 4 years
Back to top of How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Growing Eggplant: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Eggplant. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Armyworm
  • Corn Earworms
  • Cucumber Beetles
  • Cutworms
  • Earwigs
  • Flea Beetles
  • Hornworms
  • Lygus Bugs
  • Nematodes
  • Omnivorous Leafroller
  • Snails/slugs
  • Spider Mites
  • Spittle Bugs
  • Thrips
  • Whiteflies

Diseases

  • Mosaic Viruses
  • Phytophthora root and crown rot
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Verticulum Wilt
Back to top of Growing Eggplant - How to Grow Eggplant Organically

YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Eggplant

growing vegetables Yep - He grew these himself!
Click here to share your photo
or experience
.

Figured out a unique and effective way to grow them in your region?

Solved a problem that's been plaguing you?

Want to show off a picture of your perfect harvest?

Click here to share your advice, experiences and/or photos.

Back to top of Growing Eggplant - How to Grow Eggplant Organically

Was this page helpful?  If so, please tell your friends about it with a Facebook like or via Twitter, Pinterest, email or good old fashioned word of mouth. Thank you for supporting our efforts!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave a comment in the box below.

Also see...

Eggplant photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

ask a vet

What Visitors Are Saying...

Share your thoughts!
[?] Subscribe To This Site

XML RSS
follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines