Eggplants From Seed- When to Start?

christinmk z5b eastern WAJanuary 24, 2011

I am curious to know how early you guys like to start your eggplants inside? Last year was my first time growing them from seed and I started them much to late. I am terrible when it comes to timing these sorts of things!

Recently read in a mag that it is best to start them 8-12 weeks before your last frost date. Twelve weeks sounds like a really long time to me, but am no expert so would love to hear your opinions. If twelve weeks is best than I need to hustle and get things together, lol!

Do you think it is best to grow the plants as big as you can inside before planting time? Do you find it gives them a good head start doing so?

Thanks much for any info!

CMK

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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Eggplant is one item I've not had success with when planting early. I usually will start seeds about 2 to 3 weeks before typical last frost date and start setting plants about 3 to 4 weeks after last frost date.

In addition, we have a long growing season for eggplant. I can generally harvest through October. Eggplant tolerates the heat very well. So late plantings also work quite well. Because of this, I've not felt the need to start eggplant early.

From prior postings I've noted that eggplant success is sometimes a bit tougher for folks up north. Redback from those who share a similar climate as yours might be more helpful.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 2:55PM
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farmerdill

Concur. I use the same timetable for eggplants that I do for tomatoes 6-8 weeks. But temps come up fast here and they do like heat more so than tomatoes.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:34PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I'm in a similar zone as OP and I start mine ~end Feb-March 1 for a ~May 1 plant-out under wall o' water. I find they don't like to be too long in pots and just sit there in the window, pining for outside.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 4:31PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Thanks so much for the info. Good to know that they don't do well indoors for a long period of time. Think I will try starting them about the time Dan does, since our LFD is only a little later than his.
CMK

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 5:41PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'd go for end of Feb here...especially if you can move them into a greenhouse/hoophouse at some point in March. They love heat.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:22PM
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namfon

I agree with the Feb/early March planting date, after the first 2 sets of true leaves the seedlings get kind of big. If you can handle larger transplants then starting from seed is nice for trying different varieties.

For up north growing it is best to have something to cover them with at night and something clear to cover them with during the day to trap extra heat until the temps warm up.

They also germinate much better with bottom heat.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 5:43PM
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gardenvt

I start my eggplants in mid-March and plant them out about June 1. I do move them up in pots several times and they get a few weeks in my mini greenhouse which heats up nicely in the spring.

I always start them before the tomatoes - as much as 3-4 weeks based on my growing environment and experience with them. Same with peppers - start them with the eggplants.

Of course, every year is a bit different but 10-11 weeks seems to be about right for my plants. They are big and healthy.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 4:45PM
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rachel597(5A ME)

I too have great success when starting my eggplant seeds at the same time as my tomatoes. I have them scheduled to seed on 4/17.

I also plant out after Memorial Day. They produce well into fall.

Rachel
GrafixMuse's Garden Spot Blog

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 10:28PM
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