Urban Garden Eggplant

Eggplant are sturdy contained plants that produce wonderful purple flowers and gorgeous fruits that are often a glossy royal purple, fruits can also be striped white, green or yellow and are delicious

Urban Garden Eggplant

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Nutrition

Eggplants are a good source of fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, phosphorous, and thiamin (vitamin B1).

Eggplants also contain phytonutrients that function as antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and flavonoids.

Additionally, eggplant may help prevent the growth of cancer cells with high concentrations of the phytochemical monoterpene.

Eating

Eggplant is a base in many meals, a pillar of Indian and Italian cuisine.

The sponge like consistency of the eggplant will absorb flavors it’s cooked with.

Eggplant Parmesan, sautéed eggplant, curries and ratatouilles are all good dishes to try.

Storage

DO NOT store in the refrigerator, eggplant are a warm weather fruits and will start breaking down quickly in cold conditions.

Eggplant are best eaten right away.

Leave in a mild dark place for up to a week.

Getting started

Eggplants are best started indoors, and are helped by a good growing head start of 6 to 9 weeks before the last frost.

Sow ¼” in potting mix.

Eggplant like heat, and often will not sprout unless temperatures are 75- 90f to create these conditions, use a heating mat.

Planting

Planting

Plant eggplant  20” to 34” apart, in sandy loam soil that drains well and has lots of organic matter.

Soil that has been amended with compost is best.

Providing full sun is a must.

Mulch around eggplant to keep weeds down.

Planting tip

In cooler climates plant eggplant in dark containers or in raised beds.  This will help boost the soil temperature, which is key for eggplant growth.

Companion planting

Eggplant thrive when planted alongside peppers, of the same family they enjoy similar conditions, save, eggplant are helped by more frequent nutritional boosts. The roots of peppers release chemicals that reduce risk of root diseases.

Green beans are also great alongside peppers as they add needed nitrogen to the soil and is a deterrent to the potato beetle which loves eating eggplant.

Growing

Growing

Eggplant need plenty of water, and really good drainage, they will shrivel if they stay damp. Make sure the soil you plant them in can drain! If eggplant don’t get enough water the fruits will be small and bitter.

Eggplant are one of the most heat and drought tolerant vegetables. This can be a major asset however, it’s also a challenge in cooler climate. Mulching around plants will help keep them warm.

Produce more fruit!

When the first flowers bloom, pinch them off before they develop fruit. This will encourage the plants to grow more branches, and leafs which will result in more eggplant in the coming weeks rather than one or two big early and slow eggplants.

Keep in mind: support

When loaded with fruit certain verities of eggplant can tip over or break. Use stakes and garden twine to give them a little extra support

Harvesting

Eggplants are ripe when they take on glossy sheen. Use a knife to cut the fruit stem from the plant without harming any branches. Fruit left on the plant too long or in cold temperatures will take on shades of brown.

Each plant will produce eggplants until a frost, in the north expect four to eight eggplants per plant, in the south plants can produce many more.

If fruits aren’t ripening, the plant is likely stressed, the most common stresser is cold weather.

Tradition

Eggplant is indigenous to south East Asia. The first records of its cultivation date to before 300 BCE and it’s thought to have been grown for over 4000 years.

During the 16th and 17th centuries traders brought eggplant to Europe where it was called “mad apple” and was brought to cause madness.

Thomas Jefferson, American founding father and avid botanist is credited with bringing the plant to the US where it was an ornamental for several decades.

Family

Eggplants also known as Solanum melongena are a member of the nightshade family, other vegetables in the family are sweet peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.

They are also called aubergine and brinjal, depending on what part of the world you’re in.