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How to grow eggplants #vegetable_gardening

Habit: Compact, upright, and bushy. Plants don't require staking, but fruits will be straighter and easier to harvest if they are.

When to Plant: Cold-climate gardeners should chose quick-to-mature varieties and sow the seeds indoors 8 weeks before last frost. The plants cannot withstand cold soil, so seedlings should not be planted outdoors until daytime temperatures are in the 70s.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Well-drained; average soil should be amended with compost prior to planting.

Watering: Water regularly, as both drought and excessive water will cause stress that may affect blooming and bearing.

Fertilizing: Fertilize weekly at half strength.

Pest Problems: Flea beetles are notorious for making Swiss cheese out of eggplant foliage -- exclude them with floating row cover or try sticky traps to catch them. There are some fatal fungal diseases, especially in humid areas; rotate crops to avoid.

When to Harvest: Fruits have better texture and flavor if picked when no more than half grown.

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