Help with Ichiban Japanese Eggplant

thisisme(az9b)May 14, 2011

My wife asked me yesterday why we are not growing Eggplant ten weeks after she asked me not to. (Man I hate these cooking shows.) So today I purchased a large Ichiban Japanese Eggplant for her. There are three plants in the pot. Is it best to plant them as they are with three plants so close together? Or should I try to separate them and plant all three separately? I will be building a trellis for them. (I can't help myself, its what I do.) Any recommendations for the size of the trellis? Can Eggplant be overwintered in warm climates? Anything special I should know about their planting and culture? I don't like Eggplant and have never grown them. Even so I know that if they fail when everything else is thriving I will be in the Dog House for sure. (And we don't even have a dog.)

Somebody help me.

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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

My wife asked me yesterday why we are not growing Eggplant ten weeks after she asked me not to. (Man I hate these cooking shows.)

Its your fault for not growing them, you know.

Nonetheless, separate them, you'll get growth delay but better than crowding.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 12:08AM
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You don't really need a trellis per se. The plants are more shrubby than climbing and mine don't get more than 3-4 feet tall. I had splurged on some of those metal "ladders" for peppers and shorter tomatoes and they work great--sort of cradle the plant and its branches and fruit, better than a single stake but more 3-D than a trellis. So something home-engineered like that would be good.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:48AM
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Thanks guys. I will just treat them like any other plant in my veggie garden and build them a small trellis.

Dan, I'm the man. I know it was all my fault. That was never in question.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 2:05PM
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Yes, you should have understood what she really meant the first time around. But hey, eggplants were created expressly for hot climate gardeners, so you have a chance to redeem yourself. Even in cloudy MI, eggplants make stems as thick as a thumb. I give them a short stake but they don't even need that. The same stake is ideal for peppers and of course too little, too short for tomatoes. I agree that they can be split with TLC, immediate soaking, and careful transplanting and weaning for the first week or so.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 2:30PM
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Thank you glib. I do plan on providing some support. During a monsoon we can have sustained winds of 40+mph with gusts exceeding 60mph. I know my wife loves eggplant and should have planted them to begin with. Don't know why I listened to her. Its my job to please her. She was just trying not to impose on my space and I guess I just wasn't thinking strait.

Thisisme's internal dialog. (Remember dummy!!! Its not what she says that you need to pay attention to. Its what she means by what she says that you need to pay attention too.)

I sheepishly accept the punishment for my crime. Forty lashes with a wet noodle seems appropriate for such a sever infraction.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Of course they can be over wintered. I live up in New England so can not give specific advice on the best way. But up here I have to over winter using containers. You might be able to over winter by using cardboard boxes over the plants on cold nights. If it stays cold you will need more than that however. Another trick is double coverages. use boxes then put plastic greenhouse over that. simple sheeting over some bent pvc will do the job. I would try to grow at least one in an 18 gallon nice tote. that can be brought into the house on bad cold nights or for a week or more.

drill a few holes in the bottom. I do 5 holes. lets the water drain out. eggplant can grow well in wet soil better than lots of other things. in fact some people use egg plant roots for graft material.

you can also cut back the plant. allow the leaves to fall off if they do. when it warms up good the plant will put out new leaves and grow. hope it lives. I never did it up here in new england. But you should only need a few days or nights support to keep it alive over the winter so it seems straight forward to accomplish.

I would try to keep it under plastic sheeting in the rainly fall to keep disease off the plant. keep it dry. a simple covering will do the job. just keep the leaves and stems etc dry if possible.

Another trick is to make rooted cuttings to make more young healthy plants in the summer when warm to give smaller plants to carry over the winter.

have fun doing research.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 4:34PM
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We grow these every year and love them; they are NOT like your traditional Eggplant as they are a lot more dry and versatile (imo). We do often get them at the local home store in clumps of 3 and usually root bound. We separate them into their individual plants and put them into 7 gallon containers (container gardeners here). They all do really well and a real productive.

As far as hot climates go, I'm in Orlando (zone 9) and they do well. Keep an eye on the leaves, if they start to droop then add some water and they'll come right back.

As far as using a trellis, no real need. I will either use a simple stake up the center, or put them in a small tomoato cage (the triangular shaped ones).

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 8:15AM
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If you don't even like eggplant and your wife asked you not to grow them, perhaps you should grow a pair instead of three ichibans. Point to the garden area and tell her to make herself at home.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:44AM
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I don't think the eggplants will really need a trellis. First of all, they don't get very tall even with your long growing season. I'd be shocked if they get over 3 ft. Secondly, the skinny Asian eggplants don't weigh as much as the big Italian ones so the fruits are pretty light. Don't let them get too large if you want the best taste and texture. Lastly, eggplant stems are fairly rigid so trying to get the stems attached to a trellis might be counterproductive. The best thing to do imho is to just use a medium sized tomato cage.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:42AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I prefer the Asian eggplants. Never any bitter taste like the larger ones.

If you've never had grilled eggplant give it a try. My favorite way to eat the veggie. Slice lengthwise, brush with olive oil, and grill for a couple minutes each side. Top with freshly grated Parmesan or pesto.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 12:07PM
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bluebirdie(Z8 SF E Bay)

I've seen some pictures on Gardenweb with eggplants over 4 ft tall. Maybe it's the variety, maybe it's just my brown thumbs. But Ichiban usually tops at 2-3 feet for me. I only use a few bamboo sticks or cheap tomato cages to keep them upright. But it's challenging to keep the fruit off the ground (imaging 8 inch long fruits on 2-3 feet tall plants).

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:34PM
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