Growing indoor fruits and vegetables is a dream for many, but one that is often perceived as difficult. While they certainly are more care intensive than herbs, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables year round. Today we’ll look at a rather unique fruit, the eggplant, and learn how you can start growing it indoors.
Choosing to grow eggplants in your garden is a great way of fulfilling that vision. These plants bear small to medium-sized fruits and grow relatively well in containers and raised beds; thus, making them an excellent plant to harvest in your indoor garden.
Rich in dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and copper, not only are eggplants highly nutritious but they also make for the perfect grilled dish that works great as a side. So, read on to learn out tips for growing eggplants indoors.
Fertilizing and Soil for Your Eggplants
Eggplants are mostly warm-seasoned plants and grow best in sunny and well-drained conditions. Although raised beds that are treated with high-quality fertilizer are generally more preferred, eggplants grow relatively well in containers too. You’ll want to fertilize every 1-2 months with a vegetable safe fertilizer.
In terms of soil, use a well draining potting soil. Don’t go with a garden soil if you’re growing in containers as it won’t have the correct drainage for potting use. Most off the shelf potting soils will work fine, and will come with enough nutrients out of the bag for a few months. After that, start on the fertilizing schedule listed above.
Planting and Providing Care for Your Eggplants
Since eggplant is predominantly a summer-thriving plant, people living in colder climates should take care of the temperature around the plant. Most temperatures indoors are perfectly, fine, but you may want to increase it a bit if germinating from seeds. You also want to make sure to keep the plant away from any drafts during winter, or air condition vents during the summer. The temperate change in these areas can add undue stress to the plant.
Generally speaking, eggplants grow into tall and angular plants. Therefore, it makes sense to space them between 24 and 36 inches apart. While setting the saplings in containers, make sure you add at least 2 inches of soil to give them room to grow. In most cases, you’ll want to keep it to one plant per container unless you have unusually large containers.
At this stage you should also look to stake your eggplants. This will support them as they grow larger and prevent them from toppling over once they bear fruit.
Like most veggies, eggplants thrive in bright light conditions. You’ll want to give them 10-12 hours of bright light to grow the best plants. If this isn’t possible, using grow lights is another good option. Place these roughly 18-24 inches away from the plant, and allow them to shine on the plant for a bit longer than you would natural light. During the winter months, using grow lights is typically a necessity in all but the most tropical of regions.
Lighting is generally the hardest thing to achieve for indoor eggplants. Most homes won’t get the necessary lighting without grow lights.
Watering and Pollinating
For watering, eggplants like to have moist soil but not drenched. You should aim to keep the soil a bit moist at all times. This generally means watering every few days. Check if the very top of the soil is dry, and if so water.
Eggplants are self pollenating, but can use a little help when indoors. Simple take a cotton swamp or small brush and gently brush the flowers. This will simulate insects and ensure your plant is properly pollenated.
Harvesting and Storing Your Eggplants
Your eggplants will be ready to harvest in roughly 8-14 weeks depending on grow conditions. Ones grown indoors are likely to take a bit longer than those outdoors.
You want to wait until the fruits are a few inches of link and have a shiny, un-wrinkled texture. If you see a bit of yellowing this is a sign that they are ripe. Harvest now or they will continue to yellow.
While harvesting, always harvest your eggplants using pruning shears as opposed to plucking or tugging at them by hand. This prevents any damage to the plant, and lets it continue to grow. Once harvested, you can rinse them clean, pat them dry, and refrigerate them for several days.
Growing Eggplants Indoors
Eggplants can be a bit of challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. They’re delicious and certainly a talking point for guests. If you have any questions we’re happy to answer them!
Get eggplant seeds to grow your very own!