Growing and Saving the Seed Of Eggplant
Latin name Solanum melongena, eggplant is a nutritious, versatile and diverse crop that grows in a rainbow of colors and a wonderful array of sizes and shapes, far beyond the ordinary grocery store variety. And they’re easy to grow!
The eggplant is believed to have originated in Sri Lanka and India, and it has been cultivated in Asia for over 2,500 years. When they were first introduced to Europe, eggplants were believed to cause insanity and leprosy. They were mainly grown as an ornamental plant until it was discovered that they were completely safe to eat.
- Many culinary uses
- Eggplant cannot tolerate low temperatures, especially while germinating.
Start seeds indoors in bright light 8-10 weeks before the last frost date.
Soil should be warmed to 75-89 degrees to ensure consistent germination. Using a horticultural heat mat is highly recommended to warm the soil and speed germination.
Plant seeds ¼ inch deep.
Germinates in 10-15 days.
Setting out larger plants helps to fight pest pressure.
- Transplant outdoors after all chance of frost has passed and soil has warmed to at least 65 degrees.
- Space plants 2.5 feet apart; they do not need staking.
- Keep well watered but not soaked, and mulch around plants to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
- Fruit is mature when just slightly soft; immature fruit will feel rock hard. Continually harvest to keep plants productive.
- Flea beetles are a common pest of eggplant. Thick mulch will help to bury the insects.
- A floating row cover over young seedlings will protect plants when they are most vulnerable; just be sure to uncover for pollination when plants are flowering.
- Aphids can be controlled with row cover as well, or neem oil can be applied for serious infestations.
Saving eggplant seeds is very easy!
- Eggplants are not insect-pollinated, so it is not necessary to isolate the plants very much to ensure pure seed. For home gardeners, an isolation distance of at least 40 feet is sufficient for seed saving.
- Allow fruit to become overripe; the fruit will become slightly wrinkled and soft.
- Properly stored eggplant seeds will remain viable for up to 4 years