Eggplants - container or raised bed?

organic_elizabeth_bMarch 8, 2012

Hi,

I have some beautiful eggplants ready to move into their long term home in the garden. (Thanks Doug and Pam!!!)

Is it best to put them into a container, or directly into a raised bed? Full sun, or some shade?

Any other eggplant advice? I've not grown them before....

Best,

Elizabeth

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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Elizabeth

Depending on the soil in your raised bed, you can either put them there or in a large container. I had them both ways. When the hot temperatures of the summer come they will benefit from afternoon shade.
My eggplant planted last spring is still alive and producing fruit, I have it on the raised bed near the avocado. You can also put a tomato cage to support it.

Here is a picture taken today, it is in full sun now...

Silvia

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:57PM
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organic_elizabeth_b

Oh my, thank you Silvia. I had absolutely no, nada, none, zilch, zero idea of the size an eggplant got. Thats a tree, not a bush! How tall and wide space should I give mine?

Elizabeth

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 4:31PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Elizabeth - I had some eggplants in containers that I grow tomatoes. In the raised bed is about 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. They have about the same care like a tomato.

Silvia

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:50PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Wow, I'll never grow an eggplant that size here - frost generally kills mine around Thanksgiving. Mine are usually about 3' by then.

My eggplants don't need afternoon shade, but then the heat is not quite so bad up here, especially since I am near enough to the coast that I get a few degrees' reduction in my afternoon high temps compared to inland areas. You mentioned you are coastal...you may or may not need some afternoon shade for yours.

If you keep the eggplants in containers, use big ones, preferably self-watering. (It's harder to keep a consistent soil moisture in smaller containers, and your eggplants need room to grow.) I use Earthboxes for my eggplants, but there's nothing magic about them. Any large self-watering containers would work. However, the long rectangular shape lets me put two plants in each box without crowding them, whereas a round or square container could only hold one plant unless the container were really huge.

I've never grown eggplants in a raised bed, but obviously Silvia has great luck with it! I have never tried raised beds. I have grown them in-ground and in Earthboxes, and the production is better in Earthboxes. I don't know why. (Nematodes in the ground? Better moisture control in the Earthbox? Both? I don't know.) I have also used regular containers (not self-watering) and production was much worse - that was almost certainly due to me not keeping them watered consistently enough.

Eggplants are self-pollinating (wind shaking the bloom is all that is needed, just like with tomatoes), but bees can assure good pollination. Usually it's the big bumblebees that visit eggplants. It's pretty funny to watch, because the flowers droop under their weight, and you can see the bees hanging on upside down as they collect the pollen.

You'll want to support the plants, especially once they start to make fruit - without support they can fall over or fruit-laden branches can snap off in high winds. For my eggplants, a tomato cage (yep, even the cheap cone-shaped ones) is adequate. But for 5' eggplant trees, you'd need more support! :-)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 11:46AM
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