How to Grow and Harvest Eggplant (Brinjal)
Eggplants, members of the nightshade family, were once believed by Westerners to be poisonous, have been cultivated in some regions of Asia since before recorded history and was first recorded in an agricultural document in 544.
There are various types and sub types of eggplant for the South African home gardener.
The following options are available
- Edible: Grown for their sweet flesh good eating properties
- Ornamental Cultivated purely for the unusual and striking appearance of the fruit. These eggplants are extremely bitter, raw or cooked and do not make good eating at all
All varieties come in different classifications and, in turn there are a myriad of types to suit everyone's' needs and tastes.
Soil Preparation and feeding for Watermelon
Eggplants do not do well in boggy, wet soil. They require slightly acidic (PH 5.5 -PH 6.5), fertile, well drained soil. prepare the soil to 20cm and work in about 10cm of compost as well as some bonemeal. The compost will aid in aerating the soil and promote good drainage.
Edible eggplants do not usually require support as they are tall erect and angular plants. Plants over 50cm would benefit from a stake on the main stem...
Planting times for eggplants in South Africa
Edible: Aug - Dec
Ornamental: Aug - Dec
Please note: Planting times supplied are in a general South African sense and are based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary, for instance if you live in Tzaneen you have summer all year long and can grow summer crops January to December!
Seed Planting and Germination
If sowing directly into the ground seeds should be planted 2 to 4 to a 1cm deep hole and 45 - 60cm apart. Thin out to 2 strongest plants after 2-3 weeks to allow strongest seedlings space to grow. If planting indoors sow seeds 1cm deep in shallow flat planters. Ready for transplant in 6 to 8 weeks - 45 - 60cm apart.
Eggplant seeds germinate at between 15 and 35 degrees Celsius. At lower temperatures germination will be poor and delayed or will fail.
Germination takes approximately 7 to 10 days.
Eggplant Plant Spacing
Edible: 45 - 60cm
Ornamental: 45 - 60cm
Days to harvest
Edible: 70 - 90 days
Ornamental: not applicable - but picking fruits will encourage longer display period
- Days to harvest is based on typical good growing conditions and can sometimes vary depending on climate, state of soil, and in some instances length of day and climate for the area in South Africa where you reside.
- The specific plant might have characteristic/s that fall outside of the typical type norm.
- Days to harvest are counted from germination or seedling transplant date whichever is the latest.
Eggplants are in the same botanical family as tomatoes, and, like tomatoes, what the fruit looks like give a good idea of whether it is ripe or not:
- Shiny, thin and taut skin
- cream coloured flesh just before seeds are visible
If you are harvesting for the first time it may help by cutting into a couple of the ripe looking fruit to teach you what it should look like when ripe for picking.
Eggplants are covered in fine hairs and prickly bits that may cause skin irritation - it may be advisable to wear garden gloves and long sleeves when picking fruit. Regular picking ensure plants will keep on producing.
Cut fruit a short distance above the cap with garden cutters or a sharp knife.
Ornamental eggplants would benefit from overripe and unattractive fruit being removed to promote new, attractive fruits.
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