With the introduction of our Fairy Tale Eggplant Seed Pod Kit, we've gotten many questions about harvesting this beautiful and delicious vegetable. If you've got questions about taking care of this trendy and tasty plant, read on!
Something to remember about the flavor of the rich Fairy Tale Eggplant is that much of the care is identical to any other flowering fruit or vegetable you may grow in an AeroGarden. It's important to give your plants room to grow, so we recommend putting no more than 3 seed pods into your tall garden (Bounty, Farm Plus or Farm XL) and covering the remaining holes with spacers.
You also want to make sure you're pollinating those blossoms when they start to appear. Otherwise, they will simply fall off and you won't get any fruit. You can pollinate the plant easily with our Be the Bee tool, by shaking the leaves and branches every day or by running a fan pointed at your plants while the grow lights are illuminated.
Read more about our pollination tips here.
What Your Fairy Tale Eggplants Need to Grow Indoors
You don't have to be a master gardener to grow lush and productive Fairy Tale Eggplants indoors. With a few easy rules of (green) thumb, your plants will thrive. So break out the garlic, cheese, and balsamic vinegar and get your favorite eggplant recipe ready—here are our favorite indoor Fairy Tale Eggplant care tips.
#1 Provide Lots of Light
Similar to growing other produce like tomato or zucchini, in order to thrive indoors, Fairy Tale Eggplants need a lot of sunlight, hence the late summer season for these plants. Growing eggplants in soil? Place them near a sunny window where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. More is better.
If you don't have a window that receives sunlight for most of the day, your plants may not thrive. For indoor vegetable gardens, grow lights are usually the best solution to be sure your plants receive consistent full-spectrum light all year round. Our indoor hydroponic gardening systems come with an automated LED grow light for full spectrum, optimal lighting, so you never have to worry about if your indoor garden is getting enough sun.
#2 Feed a Healthy Diet
Fairy Tale Eggplants use a lot of energy to produce their fruits, so you need to feed them regularly. But it’s equally important to find the right balance. Over-fertilizing can be a problem for eggplants and cause the plants to put out more leaves than flowers and fruit. All our AeroGarden indoor hydroponic garden models come with notification systems to tell you exactly when to feed your plants, so you're not at risk for under or over-feeding them.
#3 Choose Your Growing Medium Wisely
Indoor Fairy Tale Eggplant seeds can be planted easily using a hydroponic system. Here are a few basic facts about hydroponic growing:
- Horticultural research has found that growing eggplants hydroponically is one of the best, most efficient ways to get the biggest harvest in the shortest time—without sacrificing quality.
- Hydroponic systems also let you skip worrying about factors like soil drainage, contamination, and proper pH.
When to Pollinate Your Fairy Tale Eggplants
Fairy Tale Eggplants aren't hard to grow, but there is one little secret to getting eggplants from those pretty flowers: pollination. Unless you want to invite bees into your home, you'll have to play the part of the pollinator.
But assuming you don't have some sort of magical bee-sense, how will you know when to pollinate? Easy—just wait for the plant to be in full bloom with the flowers fully open. Here’s what to look for next:
- Stamens – In the center of each flower you'll see a circle of long, thin stalks covered in pollen. As you might have learned in an elementary school science class, these are the stamens.
- Pistil – In the middle of the stamens is another stalk, called the pistil. This is the female part of the flower, and it’s where pollen needs to go in order to produce eggplants.
How to Pollinate
There are several ways to pollinate a flower by hand. You can try:
- Using a small brush, cotton swab, or your finger
- Aiming a fan at your plant to allow air currents to do the work
- Using the AeroGarden Be the Bee tool
Each blossom will last about three days. During that time, your job is to gently transfer pollen from the stamens onto the pistils using any of the methods above. However, you'll want to take care with this task to ensure success. Here are a few pollination tips:
- Use a gentle touch – Whichever method you choose, be careful not to damage the pistils. Try to pollinate all of the pistils in order to ensure a good yield.
- Pollinate frequently – Check the flowers regularly and continue to pollinate each new bloom as it opens. Look for the presence of pollen on the pistils. If it’s there, that flower is pollinated and you can move on to the next blossom.
- Watch for fruit – You can tell if the pollination was successful if you see a small, hard lump forming at the base of the flower in about a week. That’s a new eggplant. If you don't see a little eggplant, that’s okay—you should have plenty of blossoms to continue trying.
Caring for the Leaves
One thing that can be unique to tending to this plant is its large leaves. The leaves can block light from reaching the understory of the plant, stunting growth and preventing fruit from forming. Don't be afraid to remove any leaves that are fully blocking light from reaching the lower portion of the plant.
However, it's also important to trim your Fairy Tale Eggplant’s leaves properly to ensure the plant remains healthy and continues growing. Here are some tips on how to do so:
- Use a sharp, clean knife or shears to trim the leaves, taking care not to damage the plant’s main stem
- Cut the leaves back to the main stem, or to a side branch if there is one
- Be sure to clean the knife or shears after each cut to prevent the spread of disease
Sometimes newer gardeners are hesitant to prune. But in fact, it’s one of the best ways to encourage your Fairy Tale Eggplant to put out vibrant new growth.
How to Harvest Your Fairy Tale Eggplants
Finally, once you've got beautiful purple and white fruit appearing on your plants, you'll soon be ready to harvest. Once you see the first Fairy Tale Eggplant when to pick those tempting fruits is bound to be your top question.
Fairy Tale Eggplants taste best when they are between 3–4 inches long and have bright, shiny skins. If they get too large, they'll lose the shine and begin to look dull. These dull eggplants will taste more bitter, so you want to make sure you're harvesting before they lose that sheen on their purple and white mottled skins.
Here’s what you need to know about harvesting your crop:
- When will fruit appear? – Typically, fruiting vegetables take about 45 days after planting to begin flowering. After the plant begins blooming (assuming you do your part in pollinating), you can expect another 7 to 10 days before fruits appear.
- When will I be able to harvest? – Horticulturalists at Colorado State University found that Fairy Tale Eggplants were ready to harvest about 99 days after planting. The eggplants should be harvested when they're young and tender. If you wait too long, the eggplants will be tough and difficult to eat.
- How do I harvest? – First, make sure your knife is clean and sharp to prevent injuring the plant or bruising the fruit. Next, cut the stem about an inch below the fruit. Then, gently twist the fruit to detach it from the plant. If the fruit is ripe, it should come off easily. If not, leave it on the plant for a few more days.
Once you've harvested your eggplants, you can enjoy them fresh or cook them in your favorite recipes.
Let Your Fairy Tale Eggplant Flourish with AeroGarden
Now that you've got all the tips for giving your Fairy Tale Eggplant the best care, a crop of nutritious and flavorful eggplants is right around the corner.
The only thing you need to worry about now is what to do with all those scrumptious veggies! Why not try a few classic eggplant favorites from around the world? We recommend:
- Hearty and satisfying baked eggplant parmesan
- Warm and rich ratatouille
- Creamy, dippable baba ganoush
With all the right tools, tips, plant food, grow lights and more from AeroGarden, your green thumb is going to be the envy of the neighborhood.
- Colorado State University College of Agricultural Science. Eggplant. https://agsci.colostate.edu/specialtycrops/eggplant/.
- Gardener’s Path. Tips for pollinating eggplant by hand. https://gardenerspath.com/plants/vegetables/hand-pollinate-eggplant/.
- International Soil and Water Conservation Research. Interaction effects of water salinity and hydroponic growth medium on eggplant yield, water-use efficiency, and evapotranspiration. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095633915301179.
- Utah State University. Eggplant in the garden. https://extension.usu.edu/yardandgarden/research/eggplant-in-the-garden
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