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How to grow eggplants

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Although it is possible to grow eggplants outdoors in Canada, they thrive more successfully in more temperate climates (they originally grew in India where temperatures can be as high as 50°C!). So for the greatest chance of success, a greenhouse is your best bet as these purple beauties will only thrive with a bit more heat than a typical Canadian summer can provide.

Growing eggplants in a greenhouse

  • Use pots of around 20cms in diameter and fill with compost, lightly pressing down on the surface. Place up to seven dry eggplant seeds on the surface, ensuring they are evenly spaced.
  • Place your pots in a heated propagator set at a temperature of around 21°C. Keep the compost moist, but water sparingly (just once or twice a week is enough)
  • Germination should take 2-3 weeks. Keep your plants warm, but don’t let your compost dry out completely
  • Once your plants have sprouted and the leaves have expanded, take the individual seedlings and plant them into their own pots of around 7cms in diameter and handle the seedling gently by the leaf to avoid crushing the stem.
  • Feed once a week at this point with a general liquid fertiliser
  • When the roots emerge from the bottom of the pots, you can then move the eggplant plants into slightly larger pots of around 10 cms in diameter. Repeat this process 3 or 4 more times until the plant is in a 30 cm diameter pot, using compost each time
  • Once the plants have grown to a height of 30 to 40cms tall remove the main tip of the eggplant plant to encourage branching
  • To give the stems support, tie them to canes
  • Spray the plants with tepid water every day to encourage the fruit
  • You can encourage flowering and then fruiting by feeding weekly with liquid fertiliser
  • Once fruits appear, do not pick them until they are shiny but don’t wait until they are dull.

Our top eggplant growing tips

  • Grow your eggplant plants in individual pots rather than growbags
  • Eggplants really do love the heat and require a temperature of at least 21°C to thrive as the flowers will droop and the fruit won’t flourish if it is too cool
  • If it is cool, you can spray your plants and/or flowers with tepid water (this will also discourage insects)
  • Tomato food can be used as a good alternative to a general liquid fertiliser
  • The best eggplant varieties for growing in Canada include the Indian (long), the Thai (round), the Filipino (small) and the European (ovoide).

Harvesting and storage

Growing eggplants requires some patience. Due to their long growing season, if you planted them in March, you cannot expect to harvest them until around September. You will know they are ready to pick once the skin is shiny and firm.

Once harvested, eggplants do not store well and are best kept refrigerated to stop them from going soft. If you end up having too many you can always cook then freeze them for adding to your favourite eggplant recipes at a later date.

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