Even though most people think of purple when they think of eggplant, they also come in quite a few different shades. Speaking of shades, did you know that the eggplant belongs to the nightshade family? Did you also know that a few inhabitants of this nightshade family are potatoes, capsicum, and tomatoes?
The eggplant is also known by a few other names around the world such as aubergine, brinjal and Guinea squash. Interestingly, there are quite a few popular cultivars as far as eggplant is concerned. Eggplant also comes in different shapes, sizes and colors. A few popular ones are:
· Thai eggplant which is around and has a green and white streaked skin
· White eggplant which is also pretty small and slightly oval and long
· Lavender Long which is can and elongated
· Black beauty which is smooth skinned, purple and roundish
How to grow eggplant
After you have chosen the seeds of the desired species of eggplant, you could soak them in water for about 8 to 10 hours and then sow them indoors. Of course, you could also plant the seeds directly into the soil outside but starting them indoors may give them a better chance of survival.
Eggplants also love warmth so do try and maintain good soil temperature - something in the vicinity of 80○ to 90○ F - for the first few days for this will encourage the seeds to sprout.
Keep a watch on the seeds and when they have reached a height of around 3 inches, you can plant them outdoors. Ideally, you should sow the seeds indoors around 7-8 weeks before the expected last frost of the season. Before transplanting them outside, taper off the water and acclimatize them, in a manner of speaking.
Taking care of the plant
The transplanting of the eggplant should be done well after the cold of the frost has passed. You can also prepare raised beds so that the eggplant will enjoy extra warmth. The usage of organic mulch is also a good idea to deliver extra protection as far as soil temperature is concerned.
Also, choose a location in your garden which receives a lot of sunshine. In case you live in a particularly cold climate zone, then you can also go in for something known as row covers which will protect the plants from cold weather.
The seeds need to be planted with at least 2 feet distance between them. As the plants become taller, use stakes to give them support because they can grow really tall! And when the fruit start showing up, the plants will need to have support either by way of stakes or by way of cages.
You will also need to watch out for diseases such as wilt and fruit rot. One way of combating the disease known as verticillium wilt is by adding magnesium to the soil around the eggplant.
Harvesting and using eggplant
Normally, the eggplant will be ready to be harvested around twenty weeks or so after it has been sown. After harvesting, the eggplant is ready to be used in many a culinary preparation.