Best Practices: Eggplant Success

Eggplant and New England are not synonymous. The Eggplant has been grown in modern gardens for only a little over a hundred years in Europe and America. Eggplant is native to the warm climates of India, China and south Asian regions. The key to eggplant success is choosing a variety(s) that will grow and produce in our cool northern climate. We’re very fond of the Asian types, as they seem to adapt very well to our cooler growing conditions. The Italian varieties of eggplant we offer were bred for cooler northern climates as well.

The key to plentiful harvests in New England is to plant them on black plastic mulch, and cover them with a floating row cover to trap heat. If a row cover is unavailable, then be sure to place them in the sunniest area of the yard. If you use row covers, remember to remove the row cover once weekly on a sunny day to permit pollinators access to the flowers. We strongly believe that waiting to plant until nighttime temperatures are in the 60’s and above or the plants go into shock and production will likely be sacrificed. Eggplant, like their tomato cousins are heavy feeders and require high soil fertility. We suggest adding generous amounts of aged compost or well-rotted manure before planting. They also need well-drained but moisture retentive soils. During periods of little rain, they will require a thorough watering weekly. We plant ours between 18 and 24″ apart, with 48″ between rows.

Top recommendations: Choose cool climate friendly varieties such as Asian types or specially bred Italian ones. Plant out once nighttime temperatures have warmed to about 60 degrees. Use black plastic mulch to create a warmer micro-climate. Cover with floating row cover to trap heat and exclude insects. Remove row cover weekly on a sunny day to allow pollination. Use generous amounts of compost or rotted manure. Water well weekly during times of little rain. Plant out between 18-24″ apart, with rows 48″ apart. Keep fruit picked regularly for best plant production. Watch for Flea Beetles and Potato Beetle pests.

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