Solanu melongena | As a tropical plant, eggplant loves warm temperatures and grows best in very sunny, well-drained locations.
How to plant?
Although eggplant can be seeded directly into the garden, it is better for the beginning gardener to use transplants, planting them in March–June. The plants will grow to 2–4 feet tall. Space them 24–36 inches apart when planting in spring and summer seasons. Eggplants can fall over because of the weight of the produce, so support them when planting. Drive stakes into the ground 2 inches from the base and tie plants to them to keep them upright. Eggplant thrives in heat (75–85° F).
How to harvest?
Use pruning shears to snip off eggplant with short stem in tact. If picked when underripe or overripe, the eggplant will taste bitter. The perfect time to harvest is when the eggplant stops growing larger and has glossy skin. When slicing it open, you should see soft, small seeds inside. Rinse clean, pat dry, and store in the refrigerator for several days. Eggplants can produce all summer and even into the cool of fall.
- Black Beauty
- Black Magic
- California White
- Early Long Purple
- Easter Egg
- Asian (cucumber-shaped): Ichiban, Long Tom and Tycoon
Nutrition & Recipes
Eggplant is very nutritious. It is a great source of fiber, which can help protect against type 2 diabetes and keeps the digestive system regular. It also has a fair amount of iron, potassium, and protein.
Eggplant contains a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from damage by free radicals (harmful substances in the body). It has been shown to improve memory and decrease age-related mental issues.
A member of the nightshade family, eggplant is related to tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. Cultivated in India since prehistoric times, eggplant was referenced in a Chinese agricultural treatise in 544. It was unknown in the Western world prior to 1500. Today eggplant is mostly cultivated in Asia and the Middle East.