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Lindsaylew82
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I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Every year I try it. I tried putting it in early. I get a scrawny wimpy plant that doesn't thrive or produce fruit. This year I waited until really late, so temps were high. It's still just kind of the same size. Not thriving. Flea beetles tear them up early, mid season, or late season. I feed them. I coddle them.

I really want them to do well.
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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applestar
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Ooh I'm surprised YOU are having problems. I'm in the same boat, but I thought heat is the issue for me.

One thing -- I told someone who lives up north that they should try growing peppers in containers when they said they just can't grow peppers. I hear his peppers are doing really well this year.

...then I kind of forehead slapped myself and said *I* should grow *eggplants* in containers. :roll:

Well, I've been meaning to all season -- I was going to plant them in a 1/2 barrel -- but I'm running low on potting mix and I've already stretched my budget, AND I have those tropicals they need to be repotted/uppotted before they come inside in fall.... So. I only have one eggplant in a 3 gal container (which I think is too small for it) but that one is doing really well compared to the others in the ground. I believe it has 5-6 blossoms on it right now.

I might just dig up the other ones in the ground and plant them in a big tub. I'm thinking of trying to overwinter the eggplants again (only one barely survived last winter -- unfortunately I planted that one and another seed started plant in one of the VG beds and the entire area is currently shaded by the beans and the sunflower fence row (duh -wall- ). The one Orient Express that had outgrown the 3gal container and was planted at the end of the Haybale squash row is growing and producing one fruit at a time. :?
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Lindsaylew82
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

I'm notorious for killing anything I any in a pot, but I think it might be worth it! I've planted all kinds. Every other solanaceae that I plant does beautifully. This year, I planted ichiban. They've been in the ground for nearly 2 months. 1 is about 1 foot high, with it's first blossom. The other the same with no blossoms.

I still have growing time....I just don't think it likes my garden.
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

imafan26
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

I have to say, I am surprised so many people have problems with eggplant. It is very reliable for me. It is not a fast grower and it does like heat. Like peppers, it does not germinate until it is warm, like 70 degrees reliably. If the plant is already growing it will tolerate cooler temperatures, but seeds won't germinate.

Because they are slow from seed, I plant them in starter pots using my standard mix 50/50 peatlite with some osmocote slow release fertilizer. I know you are probably using an organic mix. I don't have luck with those. They hold too much water and will rot my seeds. What every you use it needs to be fast draining, moist but not soggy and dry out in a day.

Out of habit, I plant nearly all of my eggplant and pepper seeds uncovered or lightly covered in the media, but I do have to cover the tray to keep the birds from eating the seeds.

I have some black beauty and long purple (pintung and Waimanalo long), but my favorite are long green ones. I prefer the thai long green, but I have to find the right variety. I have Roleks now, the skin is still tougher than I would like. The advantage of the green eggplant is that it can stay longer on the plant and still be soft enough to eat, pretty much when the purple eggplants lose their shine they are too hard and seedy to eat. I also have thai tiger (small round), it has more bitterness and is not a long keeper and it is literally two bites. Sometimes green eggplant is a hard sell because people don't like the color.

I transplant them when they get fairly large true leaves which can take a month, then I transplant them to 4 inch pots where they can stay for another month. Finally they would go into a 20 inch pot or the garden. In all it takes close to 3 months for the eggplant from seed to first fruit. However, once they start to fruit, I get 8-10 eggplant every 10 days or so until the days get shorter and the eggplant stops blooming. One plant can live for years, I know someone who has one that is still producing at 8 years. I generally keep mine in a pot so I replace it when it becomes less productive in about 3-4 years. I only keep one or two plants or I won't be able to eat or give away enough of the eggplant. My mother has a wild green eggplant that is very productive but it must have been a cross between a domestic and a wild eggplant because hers is thorny and mine is not.

I would not be discouraged if your plant is only a couple of months old and it is small. That is how they are, once they get past a certain point they just take off. I put a relatively small plant in my 20 inch pot. I know even though there isn't much top growth that the roots are expanding. Eggplant, like tomatoes need a fairly large root system to support the plant. If my pot is too small the eggplant will stunt.

I could and do have wild eggplant come up in my acidic garden with a pH 6.4, but eggplant needs to go in as transplants when the pH is 7.4 or higher. They are happier in more acidic conditions. The plants are fuller and not so leggy. They like a well drained soil but also like lots of water. I feed my plants about once a month in pots, but I do not use organic food, I use citrus fertilizer. You could probably use tomato tone. Eggplants are a small shrub so they need room or they will get fungal diseases on their leaves. If that happens, it is easier to head the plant back and let new leaves grow.
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Lindsaylew82
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Thanks for all this info! I'll have to see if I can find these seeds! I'm not picky about color! I usually peel them anyway.

As of yesterday evening, I went out and they are covered in flea beetles and mealy bugs. I'll treat those with some neem tonight.
Lindsay
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USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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applestar
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Well, if marlingardener is having trouble, then heat can't be the only issue.

But I'm going to try the variety called Diamond next year as well as Orient Express which is the only one fruiting right now. I'm having trouble with Ping Tung Long but that might be the length of season issue for me that won't be a problem for y'all with a longer growing season. I need early maturing varieties so I'm looking at the listing at Fedco in Maine.

Imafan's post is reinforcing my feeling that I want to try overwintering the eggplants.

I'm also remembering that Ping Tung long did produce a little better when I planted it in my only sandy bed, so this might be another point that imafan made about well draining soil.
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erins327
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

I have never been able to have success with eggplant.

Then my boyfriend pleaded with me to try ONE MORE SUMMER.

I put them in last April(ish), Black Beautys, and am still giving them away. I think two plants have grown a total of 10 or so.

I have no idea what was the golden factor in this, however there was a 'new' bed made with Ladybug garden soil with added homemade compost. This summer for us has also been not too shabby. We have only had 21 days now of over 100, and those didnt happen until really this month. So June and July were mild and wetter than the previous summers.

And yes it is very frustrating when people state they are so easy! They really are not!

Good luck next year!
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imafan26
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Eggplant will volunteer. The wild eggplant are tough but they have nasty thorns. They produce a ton of fruit and tolerate bugs pretty well.

I don't have that many issues with flea beetles, mostly fungal diseases. My new eggplant is not happy since I put it in the same pot and did not replace the soil. I guess I will have to repot it in new soil.
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applestar
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Here's the one in a 3 gal container. I grew it from seed but had lost track of what it was -- Now that the fruits are developing, I can tell it's Rosa Bianca :D

I really think container growing is the answer for me. I enriched this one's potting mix (blend of Gardener's Gold organic potting mix and Bumper Crop (both containing beneficial myco and microbes), plus some PBRH (Parboiled Rice Hulls) for improved drainage/aeration) by adding a fair amount of reconstituted alfalfa pellets and bran as well as a bit of dolomitic lime. And yes, a big fat nightcrawler :() I'm using a catch tray to capture leached nutrient-rich water and adding to next watering to minimize nutrient loss.

...you can plainly see I DO have fleabeetles issues... :x It's also showing traces of tomato russet mites :evil:
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imafan26
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

I don't get much in the way of flea beetles. I have just been lucky, they are around. I do have fungal issues. When it gets bad I just cut the plant back and let it grow new leaves. I can't do anything about the rain.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Lindsaylew82
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

I checked on mine yesterday. I've had so little time and energy. There is one eggplant on one plant, but many blooms which leads me to think I should plant them earlier! The other one is infested with Colorado potato beetles. :( I guess they were in the nymph stage.. Ugly. They were disposed. I don't think that plant will produce.

I hope to get a couple fruits!
Lindsay
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USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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applestar
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

I'm determined to figure this out next season :bouncey:
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fourfortytwo
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

This will be my first eggplant season so I will start them this week, on a heating pad, under T5s. hopefully by early June they will be hardy but not too big, I always plan on protecting them with very lightweight row-cover for bug protection and what minor thermal protection it offers (It's arigbon-15, not even the 19), I also purchased some Solar Mulch, but then read that eggplants like the hot/cold fluctuations of day and night, but maybe not their roots. Lastly, I picked hansel, a "mini" eggplant, on account of perhaps quick turnovers. We shall see...

Maine eggplant growers chime in...
Zone 4B, Maine. Approx. 124 day growing season, 50% frost-free certainty May 14th-Oct 1st. Ten 4'x8'x15" raised beds with PVC hoops attached with lightest weight row cover/bird netting/30% shade cloth, depending.

imafan26
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Re: I'm starting to think I just can't grow eggplant.

Eggplant can take the heat. It will still produce in the 90's, but the 100's may cause them to drop flowers. I would think an insect cage will help with your bugs. Eggplant likes a rich soil that is well drained. They are big plants, so they are either in the ground where they can get up to 4-5 ft tall for an old one and in a pot they usually stay smaller around 3-4 ft. They are like tomatoes and have a large root system so 20 inch pots are good. They like to be evenly watered. They can handle a little dryness and will come back from that but they don't like it to keep happening. I do get spiny aphids when they are stressed but I haven't had aphids around for a few years now except on the citrus trees.

Eggplant germinate poorly in cold weather and they cannot handle flooding. They are slow to grow in the beginning so starts are a good buy. Once my plant starts flowering, I start feeding it. You can go with Miracle grow every two weeks, but I use my usual citrus food, about a tablespoon once a month around the edge of the pot.

I average 8 fruit about every 10 days. I grow the green ones because they can stay on the bush longer before they get yellow, hard, and seedy. My mother has a green eggplant that was crossed with a wild eggplant. It is very thorny, but bulletproof. It is just prickly trying to get at the fruit, even the calyxes have thorns.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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