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HEIRLOOM. This Italian heirloom produces enticing lavender fruits with white blushing, adored by chefs and home gardeners alike for their creamy texture and no bitterness. Harvest when softball sized with slight ribbing.
Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost, and transplant out after the danger of frost has passed. These plants need warm soil temps for germination, and full sun once they are in the garden. Fruits will begin to mature about 80 days after transplanting. 0.2 gram packet contains approximately 50 seeds.
|Direct Seed Spacing
|Soil Temp. Range
|Days to Sprout
|Days to Harvest
|80 from transplant
Eggplants require a fairly long season and love hot weather, so it is best to start them indoors and transplant them out once the weather is warm enough. Start eggplant seeds indoors 6-9 weeks before your last frost is expected. Soak the seeds in water overnight before sowing them for better germination. Fill seed trays with fine, loose growing medium, then using your fingers, push 2-3 eggplant seeds into the growing medium in each individual seed tray cell or container. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep, cover them, and then mist or sprinkle water onto the soil surface. Cover your seed trays with a humidity dome. Eggplant seeds will germinate as soon as 5 days or in as long as 2 weeks, depending on the temperature. Warmer temperatures will spur a quicker germination period. Using a seed germination heat mat is recommended. Maintain a temperature of at least 65 °F for your eggplant seeds while they are germinating.
Once the seedlings are up, you can remove the humidity dome and turn off the heat mat if you’re using one.
When your seedlings are about 3 inches tall, pot up into bigger pots if needed. You should aim to finish your eggplants in a 4-inch pot or larger. Eggplants should not be transplanted outdoors until all danger of frost has passed and the daytime temperature is consistently at least 70 °F. Choose a spot in your garden that gets full sunlight. Eggplant grows best in fertile, well-drained soil. Use a gardening rake to loosen the top 8 inches of soil before planting.
Eggplants do best when they have room to spread and grow, so space plants 24-30 inches apart in all directions. Mulching around the base of the plants will help prevent the growth of weeds and keep the soil warm. Straw, compost, and grass clipping are good choices for natural mulch materials. Use bamboo sticks or other suitable stakes to hold up your plants. Insert the stakes into the soil about 1–2 inches away from each seedling. As the plants grow, they will lean onto the stakes and won't disturb any surrounding plants.
To thrive, eggplant need at least 1 inch of water per week. Aim for one weekly, intensive watering rather that multiple, short watering sessions. Frequent watering promotes shallow roots, which can compromise the health of your eggplants. Row covers are great for protecting eggplants from the cold, disease, and insects - particularly flea beetles, which can destroy eggplant quickly in some parts of the country.
Keep track of your planting schedule from the day you first sow your eggplant seeds. At the 16-week mark, start checking your eggplant crops to see if they are ready for harvesting. When the skin on the fruits is shiny, harvest by cutting near the stem with sharp pruning shears.
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a cross-pollinating annual. Eggplants of different varieties should be separated by at least 300 feet to ensure that they do not cross with each other. Wait until your eggplants start to turn brown or yellow and the skins dull before harvesting for seed. That is, let them go very overripe - the glossy young fruit we harvest for eating is not botanically mature, and the seeds within those fruits will not be viable. To collect seeds, pull the skin off your overripe fruits and then cut the flesh into cubes. The easiest way to separate the seeds from pulp is to put the cubed eggplant into a blender or food processor with a little water and create a seed-pulp slurry, then allow the pulp to float up to the surface and decant it off. After removing most of the pulp this way, pour the seeds into a fine strainer and give them a rinse under running water. Spread the seeds out on a paper towel to dry, ideally with a fan running in the space. Once the seeds are fully dry, store them in an airtight container in a cool and dark location.