Growing Eggplants For The First Time This Year

I never grew eggplants before so I really don't know what to expect. I'll be growing Black Beauty which is an old heirloom. I really don't know how tall the plants get but I'm going to put stakes in just in case their needed. I'm planting them in the same row as my tomatoes and peppers. Not sure about production either. Not sure how many eggplants to expect each plant to produce??? One thing I'm sure about is the fact that I love them breaded and fried :)
Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

(aubergine) because both are indeterminate perennials that are gown as annuals in most of North America because neither can handle temperatures much below 45-50(F). Neither plant likes to have its roots crowded, (a special hazard in "intensive" wide-row gardening) which results in slightly smaller-than-normal plants (normal height is 2-3') but significantly smaller fruit. In spring-summer, 2008, I grew two Black Beauty in 35 gallons (5 cubic feet) of earth and was rewarded with softball-sized eggplant. However, for the first time in many years, I was able to overwinter both plants which provided a second season from spring until October of 2009. I believe that solar heating of the container was a factor. Unfortunately, both succumbed to the unusually cold '09-10 winter. At any rate, if that container gets another eggplant this year (not certain; it may get cucumbers, instead), it first will get another two cubic feet of earth, which will max it out, and just one eggplant.     I routinely grow "California Wonder" bell peppers, hot Jalapeo chili peppers, "Black Beauty" as well as those skinny "Italian" eggplant. Where I am in FL, I set out peppers and eggplant when overnight temperatures remain consistently above 50-ish and the soil temperature is 65-70(F). I never start peppers or eggplant from seed; not worth the trouble. My local nurseryman consistently has a good supply of healthy (and inexpensive) "sets" by the time I'm ready for them. In spring '09 I installed 3" eggplants and bell peppers on 4-1 and cut the first eggplant on 6-12; no notes about the pepper. Where I am, historical (67 years) average March/April lows are 54 and 59, respectively. However, the first half of March has hit us with more than one nasty surprise.
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On Wed, 3 Mar 2010 08:13:47 -0500, White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

For a newbie especially with a limited space garden I strongly recommend the long narrow oriental varietals. http://www.burpee.com/product/vegetables/eggplant/eggplant+-+long+purple %2C+organic+%281+pkt.%29.do?searchsic&keyword=eggplant&sortby=newArrivals&page=all
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EVP MAN wrote:

Be patient they like a long hot summer and you may not get much growth or flowering until it warms up. If your growing season is short you may have trouble getting the fruit ripe before it gets too cold. If the fruit are well grown on a large cultivar (which IIRC black beauty is) they can be heavy enough to stress the branches. They will get about 2-3 ft (60-90cm) high and should not need staking unless it is very windy or you get many fruit maturing at once. Each plant will make only a limited number of flowers over a period of time, up to about 15 in my experience, although this may well vary with cultivar. If you are clever you may be able to get all of them to set fruit and for the fruit to mature but count on about half that. They are susceptible to a variety of bugs that like to eat the leaves (eg 28 spot ladybirds) and bore into the fruit (eg eggplant borer) so keep a close eye on them. The borer is very frustrating as you may not see the hole, you cut into what looks like a great fruit and it it just a maze of tunnels full of shit inside headed by a very fat grub.
David
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EVP MAN said:

I find that eggplants (and peppers) are perfectly sized for those cheap tomato cone things (three rings + three wire legs) which are far too small and flimsy to use with tomato plants. Both are generally robust enough to stand up by themselves, but prone to lean or have branches sag under the weight of the crop.
Smaller fruited eggplants will produce many, many little ones. You will get a few of the larger sized varieties per plant.
You want to pick them when they are a bit under ripe (by the plant's own standard), that is, the seeds are not fully developed. The fruit should be firm and glossy, and approximately the size you would expect from the variety you are growing. Undersized is better than over ripe.
The only thing to really watch out for is verticillium wilt, and it's best to avoid planting out your eggplants until it is reliably quite warm at night, later than you would set out tomatoes or peppers, as they seem to be more prone to wilt during cooler weather.
As for varieties, there are many, but they fall into two general classes, the white fleshed (which often have white, green, lavender, or streaked fruits) and the 'green' fleshed (mostly deep purple).
White fleshed types are (in my opinion) much better suited to frying or in dishes where you need the eggplant to hold together, as it were.
Green fleshed types are perfect for dishes where you will mash the cooked eggplants (like baba ganoush) or where you want the eggplant to blend into a stew.
I'm pretty sure 'Black Beauty' is a 'green' fleshed type.
There are various beautiful Italian heirloom varieties such 'Violette di Firenze' or 'Rosa Biannca' that are white fleshed.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

"Vegetables are like bombs packed tight with all kinds of
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote in

I might add that slugs and flea beatles will devour the plants. Around here (mid Wilamette Valley, Oregon) slugs are *everywhere*, and they can decimate a young eggplant plant overnight.
If your springs are long and cool, don't be in a hurry to plant the seeds, or put them outside. As others have said, the plants won't grow if it's cold - they will just sit there and be eaten by insects and slugs.
If you are adventurous, try a few different varieties. Japanese white egg grows well and sets dozens of white egg sized and shaped fruit per plant, and they are tender and quite tasty. Ping Tung is a long dark purple fruit that gets easily a foot long, and is (IIRC) green fleshed and also very tasty. I think I got about 15 fruit per plant, maybe more - they are very prolific. There is one that grows small oblong lavender-white fruit (I forget what it is called) that does well here, also.
I planted about 30 plants last year. I lost several to the slugs before I got them under control, several were devoured by flea beetles before I discovered Neem, and a few varieties just don't seem to like it here. The ones that did produce did fairly well and I had eggplants coming out my ears and then some. I must have chucked a hundred pieces of fruit in the compost pile by the end of the season - 30 plants is really too many :-)
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