A part of the Solanaceae family, eggplants are related to tomatoes and potatoes. Since pre-history, the plant is already grown in Asia, specifically in the eastern and southern parts of the region. It is known to different names in different places around the world. The name eggplant is common in North America and Australia, aubergine in British, and brinjal in most parts of Asia. When raw, it is bitter and has an astringent quality. After cooking, however, it will develop a richer and more complex flavor, depending on the method of cooking.
Amongst the different varieties of eggplant that are available, one that is perfect for container gardening is Little Finger. It has a fruit that is small and slender with thin skin. Harvest this eggplant when its length reaches three to six inches, which will take about 60 days. Fairy Tale is another variety that will be perfect for indoor gardening. With an average height of one to two feet, it will surely be easy to grow this plant even in a container. The fruit, on the other hand, will reach a maximum length of five inches.
Planting and Growing Conditions
Although it is quite challenging to grow eggplants from seeds, this is the common option for many home gardeners. Choose seeds depending on the variety that you would like to plant. See to it that the seeds are disease-free. Also, read the instructions from the manufacturer to learn how to properly take care of the plant.
After preparing the seeds, prepare the container that you will use. Clay or plastic pot will be good choices. It is important to have the right size depending on what you will plant. A good option is one with a capacity of five gallons. Each plant will require up to 14 inches of space. If it is too crowded, the plants will lack air circulation, and hence, can make it more prone to diseases. There should be large holes so that water will not remain on the soil.
The next critical factor in growing eggplants is your choice of soil. The soil needs to be fast-draining. The longer the water stays in the soil, the higher is the likelihood that the roots will suffer from diseases. It will be a good idea to add organic matter to the soil, which will help to increase the size of the crop by up to two times.
Fill the pot with your choice of soil while leaving about an inch from the top of the rim. Create holes on the surface using your finger and fill it with at least two seeds. Make sure to maintain right spacing. Cover the seeds with light soil and water from the top, making sure that the soil is only moist, but not soggy.
A closed environment is good for eggplants, which is why it will make a good houseplant. Nonetheless, make sure that it is still able to receive sunlight. Place it on the windowsill where the sun can reach the plant. Ideally, the plant must receive at least eight hours of bright but indirect sunlight daily. With full sun, eggplants will grow quicker.
Here are some of the health benefits of eggplant, which can convince you to be eating more of this vegetable:
- Improves Digestion: The main reason for this is perhaps the fact that it contains dietary fiber. This will help in promotion of better digestion, including regular bowel movement. It also aids in the stimulation of gastric juices to improve the ability of the body to absorb essential nutrients.
- Regulates Cholesterol Levels: To lower the bad cholesterol, the regular consumption of eggplant will also be beneficial. To enjoy this benefit, however, make sure to bake it rather than to fry the eggplant. Frying will use oil, and hence, will increase bad cholesterol.
- Boosts Immunity: Eggplant contains Vitamin C, which is one of the reasons why it is essential for the immune system. It helps you to avoid colds, flu, and other common health complications.
- Improves Blood: Eggplants also have nutrients that will be essential for a healthier blood. It has bioflavonoids and Vitamin K, which will play an instrumental role in the prevention of blood clots. To add, it is also excellent for those who are suffering from iron deficiency.
- Prevents Cancer: This is due to the polyphenols in eggplants, which are excellent for cancer prevention. With antioxidants, it can aid in the prevention of the invasion of cancer cells and in the growth of tumor.
Pests and Diseases
When growing eggplants, some of the diseases that you might be dealing with include blossom end, bacterial rot, verticillium wilt, southern blight, anthracnose fruit rot, and phytophthora blight. Meanwhile, some of the pests that can cause an infestation include lace bugs, flea beetles, mites, aphids, and cutworms.
Care and Maintenance
Thinking of how to take care of your eggplant like an expert gardener? Below are some of the things that you have to do:
- A water-soluble fertilizer is necessary during the growth stage of the eggplant. This will help to keep its vigor and health. At the time of planting, it is also good to add fertilizer to the soil to make it nutrient-rich. If the leaves are looking pale, this is also one indication that you need to apply more fertilizer.
- It will also help to monitor the pH level of the soil. You can buy a simple kit that will provide you with accurate information. Aside from a pH meter, a litmus paper will also help. The soil should have a pH level that is between 6.3 and 6.8. Adding agricultural lime might be necessary to increase the pH level. To reduce, on the other hand, you might need to add more organic fertilizer.
- Some eggplants may grow taller, and hence, they will need an appropriate support. In this case, you might need to tie them to a stake or trellis. This will help to encourage upward growth, which is important if they are indoors and in containers.
- If the skin of the eggplant is already glossy, this is an indication that it is ready for harvest. Sip it using clean shears, making sure that it won’t transfer pathogens that could cause infection to a healthy plant.
It is rewarding to pick fresh eggplants from your own indoor garden. You will surely feel good knowing that your efforts will finally pay off. Fortunately, it is not that difficult to grow this vegetable, even in containers. A rich soil, the right variety, and feeding the plant with the essential nutrients are just some of the most important to achieve success.