Japanese eggplant from our one plant that produces up to ten eggplant a week!
I love growing eggplant because well let’s face it, it’s easy to grow, fun to cook, delicious and versatile. If I can say a few things about the foods I like to grow is that it has to be somewhat easy. By easy I don’t mean that it doesn’t require some effort. By easy I mean, if it likes to grow and live on Kauai without a bunch of accoutrements then I like growing it. If the plant likes it here, it’s not invasive and it goes to seed then that is a triple win. I fully support farmers that grow challenging plants organically such as red bell pepper, watermelon and cucumber. I buy their products, especially Dylan Strong’s produce of Growing Strong Farms. However, I will most likely not take the extra precautions needed to grow these foods successfully. It’s just my own personal preference.
Eggplant is an easy grower. I usually have one plant and it produces well all summer. At it’s peak I harvest up to 10 eggplant a week. Another abundance problem for just two people. This year our garden neighbor Kathy gave us the eggplant start that is producing right now. I give eggplants a 3 foot circumference of growing space. They produce more if their growth is lateral. An increase in length in lateral branches gives the eggplant more room to produce fruit. If an eggplant is growing more vertical instead of lateral the vertical branches can be pruned and the plant can be trained to grow more lateral.
During the initial planting I make a raised bed for the eggplant. I add compost, bokashi and Char fish (a balanced organic fertilizer made on the Big Island) to a small raised bed. I plant my eggplant and then add spirulina tea to reduce plant shock. After a month I add more compost and spirulina tea. This should be good for the season. If I notice the eggplant is slowing down I will give it more compost and tea. It usually does not need to be fed more than once a month. The Japanese eggplant are ready to harvest when they lose a tinge of their shiny luster and are nice and soft. Somewhere around 6-8 inches long.
To save the seeds for regrowth for the next year, I let some eggplant (about 3) ripen on the plant towards the end of the harvest. Once the plant has stopped producing and the fruit have faded, turned very hard and essentially become inedible I harvest these remaining eggplant. I remove the seeds and put them in a vitamix or blender with a cup or so of water. I pulse the seeds and water for a few seconds. It sounds counter intuitive but it works! The seeds with more endosperm are heavier and will sink to the bottom. Seeds not as viable will float to the top. I remove the heavier seeds from the water and lay them out to dry in a cool but dry area. Not in the sun! When they become crispy (not easy to bend), usually after 3 weeks, the seeds are ready to plant in a cell tray to begin another life cycle. I store the remaining seeds in the refrigerator for future use. This technique also works well with tomatoes.