Like all eggplants, Solanum melongena, Lebanese eggplants thrive in warm, moist conditions. They produce slender, elongated fruits, rather than fat, squat types, and are often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Lebanese eggplants grow 3 to 4 feet high and may be grown in containers, as well as in a traditional vegetable garden. Lebanese eggplants produce fruit 12 to 14 weeks after planting, and are pollinated by bees. Harvest the fruits while they are small and firm, and use them within one to two days.
Things You'll Need
- Compost or manure
- 10-10-10 vegetable fertilizer
- Lime or sulfur
- Garden hose
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Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost or manure on the garden soil and dig it in. Amending the soil annually adds nutrients and improves drainage and texture. Hand broadcast an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, according to package directions, on the soil and till it in. Lebanese eggplant grows best when the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.8. If you have acidic soil, add lime to raise the pH level. Lower the pH level of alkaline soil by adding sulfur.
Transplant nursery-grown seedlings after all chance of frost and when daytime temperatures are consistently above 65 degrees. Planting Lebanese eggplants too early is a common reason for failure. They become stunted and may not produce fruit. When in doubt, wait. Space them 15 to 19 inches apart.
Water Lebanese eggplants weekly, or as needed, to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Eggplants are related to tomatoes and peppers and require similar care. Don't allow the soil to dry out.
Fertilize the plants with an all-purpose fertilizer when they begin to bear fruit. Till the fertilizer in very lightly so you don't damage the plant roots. Avoid overwatering Lebanese eggplants as the fruits reach maturity.
Cut the fruits with a sharp paring knife when they are 6 to 10 inches long. Don't rip them off the plant by hand, because you'll cause damage.
Watch for insect problems. Hand-pick Japanese beetles and caterpillars and destroy them. Spray the undersides of the leaves with a garden hose to remove aphids. For serious infestations, spray the plants with an insecticidal soap.
Minimize the chance of disease by using drip irrigation rather than overhead sprinklers. Never work in the garden when it's wet. Remove any dead or diseased plants; there is no cure for most of the diseases that affect Lebanese eggplants. Grow the eggplants in a different location of the garden every year (crop rotation). Don't plant them near tomatoes, peppers, strawberries or raspberries, because these plants are susceptible to the same diseases.