Cutting Back Eggplant Stems – Should I Prune My Eggplants

Cutting Back Eggplant Stems – Should I Prune My Eggplants

By: Liz Baessler

Eggplants are big, very productive plants that can grow for years if they’re protected from the cold. Keep reading to learn more about whether eggplant pruning is right for you, and how to prune an eggplant.

Should I Prune My Eggplants?

This is a common question, and it really depends upon your preference and your location. If you live in a cold climate and are growing eggplants as annuals, pruning is less necessary. With adequate protection from frost, however, eggplants will grow for several years.

This means they can get very large, and sometimes more than a little leggy or worn out. To ensure a strong plant and maximum fruit production, eggplant pruning is a good idea in the long term.

How to Prune an Eggplant

Pruning eggplant stems is best done when the plant is established and has already borne some fruit. If your plant has already gone through a period of production and seems like it’s starting to peter off, this is a good time to do some trimming.

When pruning eggplant, the traditional shape to go for has three stems. You should leave the first main division, where the first two stems diverge from the base, as well as one other strong stem. Remove all others. This can seem a little drastic at first, but the plant should come back from it quickly with a new batch of leafy growth and fruit.

Pruning Eggplant Suckers

Even if you don’t want to cut back your eggplant drastically, it’s a good idea to remove suckers. These are the little stems that sprout from the base of the plant and from the points of branch division, much the same as tomato suckers.

Pinching off these suckers when they’re small will allow the plant to focus more of its energy on fruit production, resulting in larger, more impressive eggplants.

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The Aerogarden families are identified by the number of seed pods they grow at a single time. Here’s an overview of the four families:

AeroGarden Farm Family

This is the largest indoor system, and while it can fit on a large countertop, floor placement may be a better option. Each Farm unit holds 12-24 plants and utilizes motorized grow lights, so you are able to easily adjust the grow height of your light for the needs of your plants. Here are the different models of the Farm:

  • Farm 12
  • Farm 12XL
  • Farm 24Basic
  • Farm 24Plus
  • Farm 24XL

AeroGarden Bounty Family

The AeroGarden Bounty is the second-largest in the family. It comes with 9 holes for growing seed pods, and a 40-50W LED light. Here are the Bounty models:

  • Bounty Basic
  • Bounty
  • Bounty Elite
  • Bounty Elite Artisan

AeroGarden Harvest Family

The Harvest family is one of the smaller indoor units provided by AeroGarden. It has 6 pods for growing:

  • Harvest
  • AeroGarden Harvest Elite
  • Harvest 360
  • Harvest Elite Slim
  • Harvest Elite 360

The Sprout

The last model is in a category all by itself. The AeroGarden Sprout is the smallest indoor gardening system with space for only three seed pods. It’s a good choice for hobbyists or children learning how plants growl

  • Sprout

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I have harvested plenty of eggplants in zone 10 that were planted the previous year, and one of them the year before. We had success with a Rosa bianca, one of the long slender light purple asian types (sorry, name unknown) and one of the dark purple asian slender ones - is that the Ichiban? All 3 worked and produced for 2 years but we might lose the Rosa Bianca this year. It produced for 2 years already. The other ones are fine. Now in zone 9b I have the same thing, 6 plants total, 3 rosa biancas and 3 asian (I need more of both!) and they all look well. It froze for one or two nights and they looked bad. The fruit on them went yellow. The leaves and some branches went brown. I discarded the fruit and pruned heavily on the ones that looked the worse, lightly on the least affected ones and hoped for the best. This was early January. Now they seem to have recovered and are looking healthy, there is fruit on them growing (healthy looking) but the growth is slow. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they will make it to the spring, they are wonderful eggplants. I think it is very hopeful for your eggplants too, just prune, keep watering and leave it alone otherwise. The pruning is hard to explain, it gets pretty drastic on some of them. Yes, way back, all the way to the part of the plant that still has green in the branches, and trying to leave new growth if there is some. Good luck.

It was my first garden. All season I worked and worried that just as the familiar pot wouldn’t boil, my garden wouldn’t produce. But there they were, my first ripe tomatoes. They were smooth and firm, fitting perfectly in my soil-roughened hands. Cradling them affectionately, I whisked them to the kitchen and placed them—well, all but one—gently into the back of the refrigerator. I thought they would be safe there until the weekend when I could share them at a family gathering. But at the picnic when I proudly carved the soft, drippy spheres into small pieces and passed them around, no one was impressed. Baffled, I took a bite myself—they were mealy! What had I done?

Years later, I can laugh at the injury I caused my precious tomatoes during that first season. Post-harvest damage accounts for up to 50% of vegetable losses worldwide, and I suspect this figure isn’t much different in most homes. But damage to fresh-picked produce is easy to avoid. Understanding the ins and outs of caring for vegetables once they leave the garden can spare you much heartache and even keep a bit of your garden alive well into the dark winter months.

Vegetables in the kitchen are as alive as they were in the garden, but they need a different kind of care. The hot sun and a good soaking with the hose no longer have any appeal, but the basics still apply—the temperature, water, and air around them affect their appearance and health.

To Chill or Not to Chill

To live, vegetables must make energy, even after they have been harvested. They constantly break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats they created with the help of the sun into simpler materials. Without roots, leaves, and soil, vegetables can’t replenish these substances as they could in the garden. Through a pro-cess called respiration, these materials break down faster and faster as air temperature rises. Once the carbohydrates , proteins, and fats are gone, vegetables die. So, the lower the temperature, the longer vegetables’ food reserves last, and the longer they stay in good shape.

As a basic rule, cool your vegetables down as low as you can without injuring them. Under this rule, vegetables fall into two temperature categories: those you should store at temperatures just above freezing, as in a refrigerator, and those you should store at temperatures a bit higher. The chart below lists storage requirements for different vegetables. While kale, carrots, and beets like the cold, refrigerators can be terrifyingly frigid places to other vegetables. Full of chilly metal bars, these holding cells are debilitating prisons to beans and winter squash, and particularly to vegetables from tropical and subtropical areas of the world, like tomatoes, eggplants, and sweet potatoes. While freezing temperatures will certainly sabotage most crops, these vegetables feel chilling damage at temperatures well above freezing.

Chilling injury is a complex syndrome. The vegetable variety, length of exposure to chilling temperatures, length of exposure to warm temperatures after the chilling ones, and the growing conditions experienced in the garden all affect the extent of chilling injury. For example, some okra may be delicious coming from the fridge after two days, but by the end of the week will develop disgusting, wet sores. A pepper may shine straight from the fridge after two weeks, but leave it out on the counter for a few days and it will look like it’s been pelted with miniature rot-causing meteors. Or a pepper left in the refrigerator for four weeks may pit without ever leaving the cold. Some unripe fruits that normally would ripen indoors, like sufficiently mature green tomatoes, may never ripen af ter being exposed to chilling temperatures for a few days. My first tomatoes turned mealy because of chilling injury.

Maintaining cool temperatures in a modern house is no easy feat, even in the basement. If your basement stays 60˚F or below, you’re very lucky. You have an exceptional place to hold lots of things. Unfortunately, most heated basements these days are a dry 70˚F, unsuitable for vegetable storage. Home refrigerators generally run between 35˚F and 40˚F, but since this varies greatly, it would be wise to use a small thermometer to check.

The Humidity Factor

Vegetables, just like all living creatures on earth, are made mostly of water. We know this from watching parched spinach wilt under the sun on a dry June afternoon. You should harvest vegetables early in the day, after the glistening morning dew drops have disappeared, but before the sun reaches its highest, hottest point. If you harvest that spinach limp, it never will recover.

Vegetables lose their turgidity, or state of being swollen with water, and wilt in the kitchen just as they do in that dry June garden. From the moment vegetables are harvested, they are cut off from their water source—their roots and the soil—and they lose water until they die. The evaporation of water vapor from the vegetable, a process called transpiration, is simple: water wants to move from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration. Since water is more concentrated in a vegetable than in the air, vegetables lose water. Transpiration also depends on the temperature and the amount of air movement. Normally, when a vegetable’s water evaporates, a moist water vapor barrier forms around it, making less water want to evaporate. When there’s a lot of air movement, the vapor barrier can’t form, and water escapes from the vegetable like a barefoot gardener from a nettle patch.

You can control transpirational water loss by keeping an eye on the humidity, temperature, and amount of air movement. Wilted and shriveled beets left in a dry fridge are a sorry sight. To keep them from withering away, increase humidity and reduce the temperature. Put harvested beets in a plastic bag or container. This raises the humidity, reduces air movement, and artificially strengthens the vegetables’ vapor barrier. Your refrigerator’s crisping drawer, basically a plastic box inside the fridge, attempts to decrease transpiration, but often fails because it is not well sealed. Place the contained beets in the fridge, and enjoy beautiful beets for months. To further increase your refrigerator’s humidity, you can spritz the inside with a misting bottle.

This storage method also works well for broccoli, carrots, kale, parsnips, turnips, radishes, and most other refrigerator-tolerant vegetables. But be sure to remove any non-edible vegetable parts like carrot tops. These extra leaves just extend the evaporative surface, making vegetables wilt more.

Leafy greens like lettuces are particularly vulnerable to moisture loss and wilting. Wrap them loosely with damp paper toweling and store them in a plastic bag to maintain humidity.

While most vegetables enjoy a relative humidity between 85% and 90%, others are ruined by moisture. High humidity forces onions and garlic to sprout, and makes winter squash and pumpkins rot. These crops like it somewhat drier the normal humidity in a typical house is fine. Onions, garlic, shallots , winter squash, and pumpkins should be kept in a dark, cool room or cupboard.

Potential storage life of fresh garden vegetables varies greatly, depending on the crop, its garden history, and the variety.

Watch the video: Pruning an EggplantBrinjal plant