Now Sowing: Eggplant (February–June)

About Eggplant

Common Name: Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

Seed Saving Level: Easy


Eggplants do poorly in cold weather and should not be set out before weather is stable and soil is warm. Keep in mind, seedlings are not vigorous and subject to several diseases. Choose a warm, sunny, sheltered spot. Plant ¼ inch deep, leave 2–2½ ft between plants for growth. Germinates 7–14 days. Stake for support.


When fully ripe, purple varieties become a dull purplish brown; green fruits turn yellowish green; and white fruits become golden. Harvest when skin is smooth, shiny, and unwrinkled. Body should be heavy and firm.

Seed Saving

Flowers are self- and insect-pollinating. Let fruits grow far past edible stage. Seeds must mimic natural fruit-rotting process. Seeds harvested from immature or ready-to-eat eggplants will not be viable. Store overripe eggplants at room temperature for several weeks. Scoop seeds and pulp into a bowl of water and wring pulp. Seeds that sink have the greatest viability. Rinse. Sieve, then dry on a labeled plate or cloth.


  • Seedswap (2013) by Josie Jeffery
  • Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) by Suzanne Ashworth

Books and ebooks

Recipe: Bayou Ratatouille (Louisiana Roasted Eggplant)


  • 1 med eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 med zucchini, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into strips
  • 2 med tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Serrano chiles, stems removed and  chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp shopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the eggplant in a bowl, cover with salted water, and let sit for 30 min. Rinse, drain and dry. Preheat oven 400°F. Combine all vegetables in a bowl. Add oil and remaining ingredients, and gently toss to coat Spread mixture on a roasting pan and bake for 1 hour, then gently stir, and bake 30 minutes more, or until vegetables are very soft. Place ratatouille in a bowl, removed bay leaf, and serve.  4-6 servings.

Source: The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible (2005) by Dave DeWitt & Nancy Gerlach