Tiny Little Eggplants...

pastor_steve(9)May 14, 2012

First year in FL from IN, and so far my garden is a "mixed bag"... some things better than ever... others not so much. Problem 1 - EGGPLANT. Planted two kinds (Hybrid Twilight & Florida High Bush). Beautiful plants! But fruits are TINY. Delicious when bright and shiny, but they go to bronze and tough at less than half size. Planted seed around Jan 1 and in the ground Mar 15. Full of blooms, setting fruit well... but quick and tiny produce. Recommendations? "Par for the course" here? HELP!

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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Pastor Steve

Welcome to the Florida garden forum!

I don't have experience with those eggplants that you mention but I prefer small eggplants rather than huge ones full of seeds or bitter. Did you amend the soil before planting? They also like to be watered often same like tomatoes. If you want to try another variety, there is still time to get some oriental ones, they always produce well for me and they are available at the big box stores.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 12:32PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Interesting. I just asked exactly the same question about my Black Beauty eggplant in another gardening forum. (No replies yet.)

I have the healthiest, lushest eggplant bush I have ever had. It is loaded up with buds, blooms and setting fruit. And today I had to pick the first one because it was starting to turn dull. It was only 3 oz, just a little bigger than an egg.

It's growing in an Earthbox, so it has consistent nutrition and moisture. No disease or bug damage.

I am scratching my head on this one. Is it possible that I need to thin the blooms/fruits? I've never heard of thinning eggplant, but I can't think of anything else that would cause undersized fruit on a gloriously healthy plant.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:17PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

If you're planting in ground @ a new house, how can you know what's in the soil - perhaps weedkillers, etc.were used? It's unfortunately not uncommon here in FL for folks & their yard services to nuke the heck out things to make pretty landscaping.

I've had probs w/ Earthbox & fruiting plants too - we grew grape & pear tomatoes & tho plants grew lushly & flowered profusely, not many of the blooms set fruit & it wasn't very tasty either. My hunch is the fertilizer that comes w/ the EBs is not appropriate for fruiting plants...lacking adequate phosphorus?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 12:28PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Hmm...I don't use the soil or fertilizers sold by the EB people. This box was filled with MG potting mix with 2 cups of pulverized limestone mixed throughout. I used granular 10-10-10 for the fertilizer band. This is exactly the same setup I've always used and I haven't had a problem with undersized eggplant fruits before. Mine have never gotten quite to the huge sizes you see in the stores, but they were plenty big enough for slicing and stuffing.

By the way, the eggplant is setting fruit well. Time will tell if these later fruits are also small; the one fruit was from a bloom that opened almost two weeks before any others did. (Maybe it was inadequately pollinated?)

Also, the bell peppers I am growing in the adjacent Earthboxes with exactly the same setup are doing great, lush and healthy, loaded up with nice big peppers. I can't say how they taste yet, since they are still green.

You could be right that the eggplant is lacking phosphorus, but I am not sure why the problem would crop up this year when it hasn't before. If the next few fruit are also small, I can supplement phosphorous and see if it makes a difference in the later fruits.

Thanks for the suggestion.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Thanks for the help. The plants are the best I've ever grown, about 18" apart, but close to the tomatoes. The blooms are still coming on, but if you don't grab the small ones at shiny purple/black, they're going bronze and green the next day! Next time I'll try them further out and do a bit more research on the best FL varieties... Good news is my tomatoes are almost to the 'bragging' stage... I've never had plants put on loads of fruit like this. The earlier ones just starting to ripen and are tasting great. If the rest just go on without problems, this first try will be a win. Looking forward to sticking my nose here in the forum and learning as I go. All the help appreciated...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:41AM
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Hi there! I'm in Arizona and found this thread through a web search about the same problem. Has anyone found a solution yet? My sole plant is four years old and has always been a very heavy producer. This year the fruits are turning yellow while they're still very small, too small to eat. I've only been able to harvest one edible one this season. Right now she's got at least 20 fruit on her and is still covered with blossoms and growing new branches. In all honesty, the only fertilizer she's ever gotten is fish emulsion and that's only been two or three times in the four years of her life. I'm going to go ahead and remove all the small yellow fruits and give her some "food" and see what happens. Please update if you've gotten any results! Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:27PM
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This cause & effect is going to sound very very strange indeed......
Because of the solar cycle of high sunspot activity with it's peak in 2012 it is affecting certain plants in strange ways. You will notice the complaints are coming in from all across the country. The best way to limit the 'sunspot' effect is to lightly shade your eggplants with a bit of window screen suspended above the plants. This limits the effects of the 'sunspot' rays hitting the fruit on the plants.
You can buy the window screen at Lowe's or Home Depot.
Try it and see....


    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:55PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Well, I haven't done anything and I just harvested a second fruit that was about a half-pound. Still nowhere near grocery store size, but big enough to be worth slicing and grilling, or stuffing. If they start consistently coming in at that size, I will probably just let it be. If I start getting more of those 3-ouncers, I may try light shade like Lou suggested or a phosphorous supplement like Carol suggested.

Lou, about the sunspot cycle, did you experience or witness these problems at the last solar peak? The last solar cycle was more active than this one, so if there's merit to the sunspot theory, problems should have been evident then. (Not trying to knock you, I am just a natural skeptic.)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:51PM
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L in FL,

During the last sunspot cycle I was still busy with the move to my Florida farm (no garden) so I cannot reference that. When I hear people in different parts of the country with the same complaints and they have grown eggplants year after year I ask what could be the common cause of small fruits not limited to local weather. I've also noticed smaller fruits on my plants with no departure to the way I grow them. People not having problems could have partial shading naturally (trees, bldg, etc.). I could only come to one conclusion (there may be other factors). Window screen shading for mid day sun is a very cheap solution test worth a try so I suggested trying it.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:30PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)


Since mine are in an Earthbox, I might be able to move them near a small tree I have. (That would be free, which is even better than cheap, right?) I need to scout the shade it casts during the day tomorrow and make sure the spot I have in mind will work. With the summer getting even hotter, a couple of hours of midday shade is probably good for them anyway.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 5:34PM
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My plant is at the canopy edge of a large tree and gets shade from mid-day to late afternoon, so I don't think that's the problem. We have had some temperature fluctuations in the 15+ degree range up and down over the past month, so that could definitely be a factor. I'm leaning toward the plant just being generally overtaxed and will be adding some compost and seaweed or fish emulsion, as well as removing most (if not all) of the fruit currently on it. We'll go from there...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 5:47PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

What variety of tomatoes are you growing?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:28PM
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This is my second year growing eggplants and we are having the same problem with two different varieties. The only difference I can see is that this year there are many more blossoms and fruit on the plants at the same time. I wonder if thinning is the way to make them grow larger. Last year it seemed like there was no more than five in various stages at a time. This year closer to twenty.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 6:38PM
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