How To Grow Eggplants In Canada
Eggplants are a warm-weather crop similar to that of pepper plants. This makes growing eggplants in Canada a special kind of challenge. This article will look at how to grow eggplants in Canada despite their love of heat.
If you are new to this blog my name is Ashley and I am a soil scientist. I am located in a Canadian Zone 3 and a USDA Zone 4. I write articles, make YouTube videos, Instagram & Facebook posts all designed for Canadians and Cold Climate gardeners using science-based methods. If you are looking for anything specific be sure to let me know in the comments down below.
When starting eggplant seeds in Canada the key is the variety. Below I will list several options that can be grown in cold climates. The lower your growing zone is the lower the days to harvest should be. For more on this concept check out the video on growing degree days or the article on seed starting and zones.
When starting eggplant seeds indoors you will want to consider using a heating mat. Warm soil will ensure higher germination rates and ultimately less dampening off. If you do not have access to a heating mat consider placing it over a register or starting your seeds in an instant pot. This method can be used for peppers and tomatoes as well.
Starting Eggplants Indoors
The best time to start your eggplant seeds is 9-10 weeks before your last frost date. For more information on when your last frost date is check out this article. Sooner is not better despite popular belief, because your plant fruiting and flowering are completely based on the number of growing days you have, not how early you start. Again please reference the growing degree day content.
When starting eggplants indoors or any seed indoors keep in mind the soil medium. Peatmoss is commonly used due to its acidity and ability to suppress bacteria and fungus. With seed starting you want to use fresh soil and something with slight acidity such as peat moss, leaf mould or coconut coir. Avoid things like with compost or manures because this introduces bacteria and fungi.
When it comes to eggplants, peppers, okra, artichokes or anything else warm climate being grown in Canada the key is POTS. Pots provide a unique situation where they can be easily moved in the presence of cold temperatures. But they also tend to run a bit warmer when it comes to soil temperature. A five-gallon pot per plant will be enough to ensure a healthy plant.
When you grow eggplants in Canada you need to consider temperatures. Eggplants enjoy warm ambient temps and warm soil. This means pots are perfectly suited to growing eggplants in Canada. Our ground soil tends to take a bit longer to warm up and the shock of transplanting your plants in cold soil will set you back.
Once your eggplants are planted in pots you will want to take the time to properly harden off your plants before placing them in full sun. This will prevent any stress that can come from sun exposure or winds that the plant may not be used to. For more information on the hardening off process check out this here.
Beware Of Nighttime Lows
The number one thing you MUST remember is your nighttime lows. If your nighttime temps are getting below 10 degrees celsius you need to bring your eggplants indoors. These nighttime temps will be the reason why your plant does not produce any fruit. This again is the concept of grow degree days and these cold temperatures will cause stress even if it’s not below zero.
Fertilizer for Eggplants grown in Canada
This does not have to be anything special but you will want a bloom formula. Bloom formulas are high in phosphorus and potassium. This means the last two numbers on the N-P-K labels should be the highest. If you are using organic fertilizers then manures are the best option as they are highest in these values. If you are wanting to avoid continual fertilizing then you will want to use a slow-release granular at the time of potting.
How to get bigger eggplant fruits
When it comes to getting bigger fruit on an eggplant grown in Canada selection is important. Make sure you selected a variety that is known for producing larger fruits. After that, the removal of excess fruit is going to be important. You will only want to keep 4-5 fruits per plant and remove all the extras. This will ensure the plant is focusing on developing the plants that are remaining on the plant.
Consistent watering and staking will also be important. Supporting the plant and reducing any stress that may be occurring is important to proper development. If the plant is sensing stress from lack of water or a bending main stem the fruit development will be lessened. When you grow eggplants in Canada getting larger fruit can be a challange give try these tips and you will see great results.
Common Pests & diseases with eggplants
The most common pest we experience with eggplants is the tomato hornworm. This is typically found in the warmer areas of Canada. Them combined with potato beetles, lace bugs and spider mites can be a recipe for disaster. One of the best ways to control these is with a product called BTK and Predatory Nematodes. I find this more productive than pesticides and a majority of organic cures.
Powdery mildew in the garden is always less then ideal. Powdery mildew on eggplants can decrease the rates of photosynthesis. The key here to controlling powdery mildew in the garden is controlling the spores. Powdery mildew over winters in the foliage that was infected before. Composting powdery mildew infected leave is a big no no.
Powdery mildew is a fungal spores and therefore heat and cold are unlikely to effect it. This means composting is simply going to spread the issue farther. Discard any and all foliage that may have exposure to the issue.
Eggplants are a warm-weather crop similar to that of pepper plants. This makes growing eggplants in Canada a special kind of challenge. Be sure to tag me on instagram or facebook with your eggplant baby photos!