Mad About Berries

How To Grow Eggplants in Raised Beds

Growing eggplants in raised beds can be a great way to provide the plants with well-draining soil and improve the overall growing conditions.

By planting eggplants in at least 12-18 inches (~30-46 cm) of customized soil, eggplants can yield a great harvest, which can be prolonged over several months by planting different varieties after the danger of late spring frost is over.

Published: January 2, 2023.

eggplant plants

Quick Notes On Growing Eggplants in Raised Garden Beds

Here are a few steps to follow for growing eggplants in raised garden bed:

  • Choose a sunny location: Eggplants need plenty of sunlight to thrive, so choose a location in your garden that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, preferably more.
  • Prepare the raised bed: Eggplants prefer well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5, although they will grow in pH from 5.5 to 7.0. If your soil is not ideal, you can prepare a raised bed filled with a soil-less mix or a blend of compost and soil.
  • Plant the seeds or seedlings: You can either start the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date in your area or purchase seedlings from a nursery or garden center. When planting, space the seedlings or seeds about 18-24 inches apart to allow for adequate room to grow.
  • Add support: after planting the seedlings, add support in the form of stakes or tomato cages. Note that some more compact eggplant varieties don't require support.
  • Water and fertilize regularly: Eggplants need consistent moisture to grow well, so be sure to water your plants regularly, especially during dry periods - when watering, always water the ground directly and never get the plants wet. Fertilize the plants every 2-4 weeks with a balanced fertilizer or compost to provide the necessary nutrients.
  • Control pests and diseases: Eggplants can be prone to pest and disease problems, so be sure to monitor your plants regularly and take steps to control any issues that may arise. This may include using pesticides or other control methods.
  • Prune and train: Prune your eggplants to encourage healthy growth and to remove any damaged or diseased branches. You can also train your plants to grow in a particular direction to make better use of your space. By increasing the air circulation around the plants, the danger of various diseases is decreased significantly.

raised bed

How Much Space Does Eggplant Need To Grow?

Eggplants need plenty of space to grow and produce a good yield. In general, it is recommended to space eggplants about 18-24 (~46-61 cm) inches apart, depending on the variety. This will give the plants adequate room to grow and produce fruit.

In addition to proper spacing, it is also important to provide your eggplants with adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients to support healthy growth. Eggplants are heavy feeders and will benefit from regular fertilization, and they need a consistent supply of water to grow well.

How To Fertilize Eggplants?

Eggplants are heavy feeders that benefit from regular fertilization to support their growth and development. When preparing the soil in the raised bed and fertilizing the eggplants, be sure to:

  • Fill the garden bed with a mix of good potting soil mixed with aged manure and compost, and add some worm casting. If there is a danger of rodents and other pests, put a metal wire on the bottom of the garden bed.

wooden raised bed soil prep

  • Use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 15-15-15 or similar formula, preferably with a gradual release of nutrients. Apply the fertilizer as instructed, or more often, using smaller amounts.
  • Add some organic compost and/or worm castings during the growth season, prior to the harvest - add it 2-3 times. Avoid fertilizing the plants with a high-nitrogen fertilizer - the plants will grow tall but weak and prone to mechanical damage, pests, and diseases.
  • Water the plants well before and after applying fertilizer - be sure not to get plants and leaves wet.

Do Eggplants Need Support?

Some varieties of eggplants may benefit from support to help them grow upright and prevent them from falling over under the weight of the fruit. This is especially true for larger varieties that tend to produce heavy fruit.

There are a few different methods you can use to provide support for your eggplants, including:

  • Trellis: A trellis is a vertical structure that provides support for climbing plants. You can build or purchase a trellis and place it next to your eggplants as they grow. As the plants grow, you can gently tie the stems to the trellis using twine or plant ties to help keep them upright.
  • Stakes: Stakes are another option for supporting eggplants. Simply insert a stake into the ground next to each plant and tie the plant to the stake using twine or plant ties as it grows.
  • Cages: Eggplant cages are another option for providing support. These are typically made of wire or other materials and can be placed around the plants to provide support. Tomato cages are an excellent choice for supporting taller and larger eggplant varieties.
  • Other support structures: Many other types of support structures can be used for supporting eggplants, with the only limit being the gardener's imagination.

Note: Since eggplants are pruned to 2-3 main stalks (tomatoes just to one), tomato cages are better support than the simple stakes. However, having 2-3 stakes around one eggplant is not bad support either. On the contrary, it often offers easier access to the plant than the plant cages.

How To Water Eggplants In A Raised Bed?

Eggplants are a warm-season vegetable that thrives in well-draining soil and full sun. When watering eggplants in a raised bed, it's important to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. So, when watering eggplants, be sure to:

  • Water the plants at the base of the stem rather than from above to avoid wetting the foliage. This reduces the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to apply water slowly and consistently to the soil rather than watering with a hose or watering can.
  • Check the soil moisture regularly and water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Eggplants typically need watering once or twice a week, depending on the weather and the needs of the plants. During hot weather, consider watering every two days.
  • Avoid over-watering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, and ensure good drainage in the raised bed to prevent waterlogging.
  • Mulch around the base of the plants with a layer of straw, wood chips, or other organic material to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.

eggplant plant 300px

Best Mulch for Eggplants

There are a few different types of mulch that can be used for eggplants, including straw, wood chips, or shredded leaves, which can help improve the soil structure, pH levels, and fertility and also help to retain moisture in the soil.

Other types of mulch may also be used, like plastic mulch (soil plastic covers) or even live mulch (soil covering plants), but they are not used as often as traditional mulch.

If you have a lawn that is not treated with harsh chemicals, mow the grass, dry it, and use it as excellent organic mulch. After the season, the remaining dry grass can be used for composting - put it into the compost bin, add some compost accelerator, and in a few months, you will have your own organic compost.

Raised Beds vs. Container Gardening

Eggplants can be grown in both raised garden beds and in flower pots and containers.

The most important differences are:

  • Raised beds generally have a larger volume and are less susceptible to drought and under- and over-fertilization. Also, eggplant's rootball has more volume, and plants compete less for nutrients and water.
  • Containers are smaller and lighter and, as such, can be positioned on the carts with wheels, and when required, they can be moved to the preferred location, even indoors, to continue the harvesting season even when there is a danger of frost outside.

Personally, both garden raised beds and containers have their own pros and cons, so be sure to choose according to your own needs and requirements. Or try both of them and draw your own conclusion after a few harvests ;)

What Are Typical Pests And Diseases Of Eggplants?

Eggplants can be susceptible to a range of pests and diseases that can affect their growth and production. Common pests and diseases that can affect eggplants include:

  • Aphids: These tiny insects feed on the sap of eggplant leaves and stems, causing distortion and yellowing of the foliage. They can also transmit viral diseases.

aphids w600px

  • Colorado potato beetles: These beetles feed on the foliage of eggplants and other solanaceous plants, causing damage to the leaves and reducing the plant's vigor.
  • Flea beetles: These small, shiny beetles chew small holes in the leaves of eggplants and other vegetables, causing damage and weakening the plants.
  • Verticillium wilt: This fungal disease attacks the roots and vascular system of eggplants, causing yellowing and wilting of the foliage and reduced fruit production.
  • Fusarium wilt: This fungal disease attacks the roots and vascular system of eggplants, causing yellowing and wilting of the foliage and reduced fruit production.

To prevent and control these pests and diseases, it's important to practice crop rotation, proper watering and fertilization, and using disease-resistant varieties.

Eggplant Harvest

Eggplants are typically ready for harvest when the fruits are firm and glossy and the skin is relatively smooth and unblemished.

The size of the fruit can vary depending on the variety, but most eggplants are ready to harvest when they are between 6 and 12 inches long.

two eggplants w500px

To determine if an eggplant is ready to be harvested, gently press the skin with your thumb. If it gives slightly and bounces back, it's ready to be picked. The eggplant is not yet ripe if the skin is hard and doesn't give at all. If the skin is soft and indented, the eggplant is overripe.

Eggplants are typically harvested by cutting the stem with a sharp knife or scissors, leaving a small portion of the stem attached to the fruit. Avoid pulling the fruit off the plant, as this can damage the plant and reduce its productivity.

Eggplants can be harvested at any time during the growing season, but they are typically at their peak of flavor and quality when they are ripe.

It's a good idea to check your plants regularly and harvest the fruits when fully ripe to ensure that you have a steady supply of fresh, delicious eggplants to enjoy.

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