Eggplants enjoy hot weather. They’re not put off by South Florida summers, like so many vegetables are. So while you may be thinking ahead to the tomatoes and peppers going into your garden in October, you can plant eggplants now.
If you prefer the more obscure varieties, you may have to start from seeds. But transplanted seedlings are usually more successful, so if you’re content with the common varieties, buy seedlings rather than seeds.
Cultivation: Dig some compost into the soil. Sow seeds 1/4-inch deep; set seedlings 30 to 36 inches apart (less for varieties with small fruit). Sink a stake next to each plant to help support the fruit when it gets heavy. Eggplants like full sun and well-drained soil. They can withstand drought better than wet feet but will stop producing fruit if they get too little water.
Apply a 12-0-12 fertilizer at planting time, again halfway through the growing season, and once more after you pick the first fruit. Apply at the rate of three or four pounds for every 100 feet of row each time. Unless you want a lot of miniature fruits, pinch back blossoms so each plant produces only four to six eggplants.
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Healthy eggplants shouldn’t have serious problems with pests. If they get occasional visitations by aphids or spider mites, soap or Neem oil spray should take care of them.
Note: Eggplants also do well in pots or other containers.
Source: “Florida Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” by Robert Bowden (Cool Springs Press).