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The Ultimate Guide to Growing Eggplant in a Square Foot Garden
Inside: Discover how to grow eggplant in a square foot garden.
Eggplant is the perfect addition to your square foot garden!
Its neat, tidy habit and short stature mean you can find a spot to grow eggplant this year even if you have only a few square feet to spare.
And if you’re a warm-region gardener, you have what it takes to make eggplant thrive – hot summer weather.
Eggplant loves 😍 warm weather.
So, it can be a fussy crop to grow in cooler, northern areas.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow eggplant if you have a short growing season.
I have plenty of tips that’ll make your northern-grown eggplants happy.
Keep reading to learn how to grow eggplant so you can add this beautiful vegetable to your square foot garden and your dinner table!
Steps to growing eggplant in your square foot garden or raised bed
- How to grow eggplant in a square foot garden
- My favorite eggplant varieties
- Eggplant growing tips
- How to plant eggplants in your square foot garden
- Eggplant spacing in a square foot garden
- Harvesting eggplants
- How to store eggplant
- Frequently asked questions about growing eggplants
- Download your free square foot gardening chart
How to grow eggplant in a square foot garden
Eggplants come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, from the traditional large purple fruits to small egg-sized white ones.
Start by selecting the best variety for your area. If you live in a short-season area, you’ll want to choose faster-maturing types.
Before you decide what eggplant variety to grow, check with your local Cooperative Extension office (in U.S. only) to see what varieties will grow well where you live.
And if diseases like wilt or blight have been a problem for you, try growing disease-resistant varieties.
How to Grow Eggplants in a Square Foot Garden – Complete Growing Guide from MI Gardener:
Here are some of my favorite eggplant varieties:
- Globe eggplants are traditional large purple or white oval fruits. They produce best in warmer climates.
- Japanese eggplants’ long, slender fruits mature quickly, making them a good choice for cooler areas.
- Small fruited eggplants (such as Indian and Fairytale) are more compact and are perfect for small spaces or containers.
Related: New to square foot gardening? Learn more about proper spacing in your square foot garden.
Eggplant growing tips and info:
Botanical name: Solanum melongena
- Eggplant is a member of the tomato family (Solanaceae).
- Eggplants are a frost-tender annual.
- Eggplant seeds will last about five years.
Height: Although eggplants can grow to 8 feet tall, most eggplants will only reach 2 to 4 feet. In most home gardens, eggplants grow to 24 to 30″ tall.
Growing season: Summer.
Time to harvest:
- After transplanting, you’ll harvest your first eggplant in 65 to 80 days.
- It takes about 100 to 120 days for eggplants to mature when grown from seed.
- Check your seed packet for the exact number of days.
- Eggplant is a good choice to follow early spring crops.
- If you want to space out your eggplant harvest by using succession planting, you’ll need to use a short interval (7-10 days max.) and choose fast-maturing varieties.
- Place your eggplants where taller plants like tomatoes, corn, or pole beans won’t shade them.
- And grow them next to other crops with similar water and fertilizer needs, such as peppers.
Start your eggplant seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before your last frost.
- Plant your seeds 1/4” deep.
- Keep the soil temperature between 75-90°F.
- Eggplant seeds won’t germinate in cool soil. If you’re starting your seeds in a cool room, a heat mat will help speed up germination.
- They should germinate in 5-14 days.
How to plant eggplants in your square foot garden
Plant your eggplants in an area that gets full sun – at least 6 hours of sun per day.
Plant transplants outdoors when nighttime temperatures are at least 50°F. You can plant them earlier if you have Wall O'Waters to help moderate the nighttime temperatures.
Eggplants love warmth, which means they prefer to grow in warm soil.
So, if you live in a short-season area, you’ll have the best chance of success if you warm your soil for a couple of weeks before setting out your transplants.
- You can warm your soil with UV-stabilized clear plastic, and then remove the plastic when it’s time to plant.
- Or you can do what I do, which is grow the eggplants in plastic mulch. I lay it down a couple of weeks before planting to warm up the soil. It keeps the soil warm and suppresses weeds during the gardening season. NOTE: You must use drip irrigation to grow under plastic mulch.
- If you live in a short-season area, you may also find it helpful to use Wall O'Waters to extend your season and give your plants a warm cozy home at the beginning of the season. Remove them when the overnight temperature is consistently 50°F.
Eggplant spacing in a square foot garden
Spacing for eggplants in a square foot garden is one per square foot.
This plant spacing works for square foot gardens and raised beds.
Once you know the proper spacing, it’s time to mark out the holes in your garden bed and transplant your seedlings.
- If you’re using plastic mulch to keep the soil warm, you must cut holes in the mulch before planting.
- You don’t need any special tools or equipment to set out your transplants. I use a measuring tape and a trowel to plant each seedling.
- As your eggplants mature, you’ll want to stake them.
Eggplants aren’t bothered by too many pests and diseases. The most common are aphids, tomato hornworm, and flea beetles (which you can exclude with an insect barrier row cover).
If diseases like wilt or blight are a problem where you live, look for disease-resistant varieties.
How to tell when eggplant is ripe.
The skin should be glossy. Dull skin (or seeds that have turned brown) are signs that the fruit has been left too long on the plant. Pick your eggplants as soon as they’re ripe. Picking them a bit early is fine since slightly immature fruits taste the best. One of the easiest ways to decide if they’re ripe is to squeeze the eggplant gently. It should feel firm.
How to store eggplant
The optimum temperature for storing eggplant is about 55°F. So, your refrigerator isn’t the best option. It won’t last more than 2-3 days before developing soft spots and turning squishy.
If you must use your fridge, pick the warmest spot.
If you have a cooler room in your house, such as your basement or a cabinet that stays cooler than the rest of your kitchen, storing eggplant at room temperature may be your better choice.
Frequently asked questions about growing eggplants
How many eggplants should I plant per square foot?
Since it’s not a large plant, eggplant can be closely spaced. Proper spacing for eggplants in square foot garden beds is one plant per square foot.
What is the best fertilizer for eggplants?
Eggplants need more phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen. Since most vegetable garden soil is high in phosphorus and potassium, get a soil test before applying more to your garden.
If you have enough P and K, one or two light applications of nitrogen per season are all you’ll need to grow healthy eggplants.
Can eggplant be planted with tomatoes?
Yes, eggplants can go next to tomatoes. Place them where they’ll get full sun and not get shaded by your tomatoes.
Can eggplants grow in pots?
Yes! Eggplants do well in pots. They require a lot of heat to thrive, and growing them in pots can help keep the soil warmer.
Do eggplants like full sun?
☀️Eggplants love and need full sun to thrive. If you live in an area with intense sun, make sure the fruits have adequate shade from the leaves to avoid sunscald on your eggplants. If they’re getting too much sun, you can use shade cloth shade cloth to protect the fruit.
Does eggplant need a trellis?
Yes. Eggplants need support because of the weight of the fruit. A simple gardening stake is typically all you need. Staking keeps the fruit from touching the ground and keeps the branches from breaking.
Why do my eggplant flowers keep falling off?
The most common reason eggplants lose their flowers is a lack of water. If the plant gets drought-stressed, the blossoms will dry up and fall off.
It’s also possible that your flowers aren’t getting pollinated. Eggplant is ordinarily wind-pollinated. But if it’s excessively hot or humid, the pollen can get stuck and not make its way to the flower’s female parts. If you think that’s the case, then you may need to hand pollinate your flowers. Use a dry paintbrush and gently wiggle it back and forth inside the flower.
Are eggplants self-pollinating?
Eggplants are self-pollinated. A stiff breeze will shake the pollen off the male parts to the female parts of the flower. But insects also help pollinate eggplants by spreading pollen from flower to flower.
Download your free square foot gardening chart
It’s easy to always use the right spacing for your vegetables. Just download the Square Foot Gardening Chart and:
- Print it.
- Put it in a handy spot.
- Pull it out when you’re ready to plant seeds or transplants.
It really is that easy!
Here’s a sneak peek of your chart:
Your turn: Have you grown eggplant in a square foot garden?
Have you used square foot spacing for your eggplants before? Tell me how it went! Share in a comment below.