Whether you call it eggplant or aubergine, this is such a tasty vegetable that you can use in just about any dish! Eggplants aren’t only delicious, but they offer a ton of nutrition and are actually easy to grow, making it a great choice to plant for home gardeners. They come in many varieties, with those common in Texas being the Black Bell, Black Magic, Classic, Epic, Florida High Bush, Florida Market, as well as the Night Shadow.
If you want to have eggplant available anytime you need, then it’s time to learn how to grow eggplant in Texas!
How to Grow Eggplant in Texas
Eggplants come in various colors, shapes, and sizes, with all of them thriving in the heat. That’s what makes them easy to grow in Texas, especially during the hotter times. However, it needs more than just good weather.
To help you get started on growing eggplant, follow these steps and tips:
1. Soil Preparation
For starters, you’ll need to prepare the soil and choose the variety of eggplant you’d like to plant. Eggplants need well-drained and fertile sandy loam soils that have a pH level between 5-5 to 7.2. Be sure to prepare the area as well, removing all the weeds and tilling the soil until it’s loosened to a depth between 6-10 inches.
The higher the soil’s organic matter content, the better, so place about a 3 or 4-inch layer of compost if you can.
When selecting varieties of eggplants, make sure you do your research. I mentioned the common varieties of eggplant planted in Texas above. If you would like oriental-type varieties, I recommend investing in the Ichibon or Tycoon.
You can seed eggplant directly to your garden, though it’s best for beginner gardeners to use transplants first. If ever you can’t find the eggplant variety you want from garden centers or nurseries, then start the seeds about 6-8 weeks before you transplant them outdoors.
Grow your eggplant seeds indoors. The seeds will germinate in five days as long as you keep the temperature at around 86 degrees F, though it can take up to 2 weeks when in 65 degrees F. Take note that the eggplant is a tropical plant, being sensitive to cold, so do NOT plant it outside unless there is no risk of frost and the daytime temperatures are above 65 degrees F.
The plants will then grow to about 2-4 feet, so space your plants between 24-36 inches apart.
Fertilize your plant well, as eggplants require a consistent supply of necessary nutrients. Get a soil test first so you know exactly what fertilizer and nutrients it requires to thrive.
However, if you didn’t conduct any soil test, add about 2-3 pounds of complete fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet. Apply half of the fertilizer before you plant, then the remaining half after its first fruits grow.
Once you have transplanted the eggplant, pour a quarter cup of starter solution per plant. You can create a starter solution by mixing 2 tablespoons of a complete fertilizer with 1 gallon of water.
Just like all plants, eggplants require water! They need at least an inch every week, giving it one thorough soaking rather than frequent and short watering since this would promote shallow roots. However, weather and the soil type can affect the water demand.
If you live in an area with high temperatures and winds, as well as sandy soils, then you’ll need to water your eggplant plants more.
5. Proper Care
Be sure that you prevent weeds from growing and control them as well as you can since they would compete with plants against necessary nutrients. You can do so by using various types, whether organic or inorganic. This can conserve the soil moisture while reducing weed competition.
6. Insects and Diseases
You should also make sure that your eggplants aren’t susceptible to diseases, viruses, and insects, which can affect or stunt its growth.
Common insects are the cutworm, eggplant flea beetle, serpentine leafminer, and spider mites. Monitor the plant daily and keep an eye out for these insects, removing it through handpicking, water, or pesticide, if required. Depending on the insect, you can remove it using neem oil, diatomaceous earth, Spinosad, beneficial insects, insecticidal soaps, among other effective treatments.
As for diseases, there are quite A few that may damage your plants during different stages, such as anthracnose, Alternaria leaf spot, damping-off, late blight, seed rot, and verticillium wilt. Unfortunately, some diseases cannot be cured, but they can be prevented through planting resistant seed varieties, rotating crops, as well as correct irrigation, plant spacing, and proper sanitation, like disposing of diseased plants right away.
7. Harvesting and Storage
You will know when the eggplants are ready to harvest once they are 1/3 to their full size. Be sure to harvest them before the skin dulls and its seeds harden. I recommend that you cut off the plant with the proper equipment than to break it off the plant. Be sure to handle the fruit gently and use gloves to prevent getting hurt from the spines of the fruit stem, and to avoid bruising the fruit.
If you would like to learn more about how to grow eggplant in Texas, check out this informative video:
Wrapping It Up
Despite the confusing history, eggplants are a popular vegetable with such versatility in cooking! What’s great is that you can plant it yourself with the right tools and as long as you tend to the plants properly, offering the right nutrition and nourishment required. That way, you have healthy eggplants to harvest and use anytime you want without the need to head to the grocery store.
I hope that my guide on how to grow eggplant in Texas helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and begin preparing the right materials to get started on planting eggplants for your future dishes.