Answer: Eggplant performs best in well-drained, fertile soils in full sun. If a soil test has not been conducted, apply and incorporate 1 to 2 pounds of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, per 100 square feet prior to planting. Set plants in the garden after the danger of frost is past.
When planting, space plants 2 feet apart within the row. Rows should be spaced 3 feet apart. At transplanting, apply a dilute fertilizer solution to each plant. A dilute fertilizer solution can be prepared by dissolving 2 tablespoons of a complete garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in each gallon of water. Pour 1 to 2 cups of the solution around the base of each plant. Water soluble fertilizers, such as Miracle-Gro and Peters, are also suitable. When using these products, follow label directions on the package.
Flea beetles are the most common pest of eggplant in the home garden. Adults are tiny, shiny, black beetles. They possess large hind legs that enable them to jump. Flea beetles eat small, round holes in the eggplant foliage, resulting in "shothole" damage. If significant damage begins to appear, treat plants with an insecticide. As always, carefully read and follow label directions when using pesticides.
Begin harvesting the large, oval varieties when the fruit are 2 inches in diameter. Continue to harvest the fruit until they are 4 to 6 inches across. At the proper harvest stage, the fruit will be firm and shiny. Overmature fruit will be dull, seedy, and tough. Remove the fruit with a knife or hand shears, leaving an inch of stem on each fruit.
Eggplant fruit do not keep well after harvesting. For best quality, it's generally best to leave them on the plant until you are ready to use them. Eggplant fruit can be stored up to 7 days at a temperature of 46 to 54?F and a relative humidity of 90 to 95%.
Eggplants are subject to a disease called Verticillium wilt so it's important not to plant eggplants in the same spot in the garden year after year.
Best wishes with your eggplant!
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