Winner Type: Regional (Northeast)
Variety Name: Patio Baby F1
Common Name: Eggplant
Type: Edible – Vegetable
Breeder: PanAmerican Seed
Close Market Comparison: Hansel F1, Pot Black F1
Duration Type: Annual
Light Needs: Full sun
Water Needs: Normal
Season Type: Warm season
Staking Required: No
Foliage Color: Dark green
Plant Habit: Compact
Plant Height: 18-22 inches
Fruit Color (Harvest): Dark purple
Fruit Shape: Ovate/egg
Fruit Size: 2-3 inches
Fruit Weight: 1-2 ounces
Fruit Flavor Description: Mild
Number Of Fruits Per Plant: 25-50
Garden Spacing: 18-22 inches
Days To Harvest (Sowing Seed): 75-85
Days To Harvest (Transplant): 45
Plant Spread: 18-22 inches
Starting from seed
In most regions of the U.S., start eggplant seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the date you will be transplanting the seedlings outdoors. Direct seeding in the garden is not recommended unless you live in an area where temperatures stay above freezing year round. Seedlings are sensitive to transplant shock so it’s best to start eggplant seeds in individual 2-4 inch diameter containers instead of trays or flats. Thoroughly moisten sterile, seed-starting mix then fill containers to within ½ inch of the top. Put 2-3 seeds in each small pot and cover with ¼ inch of seed-starting mix.
Eggplants love warm temperatures. A room temperature of at least 72ºF is ideal for starting seeds. Seeds will germinate and begin to grow about 7-10 days later. Bottom heat encourages faster germination and growth. If seeds are slow to germinate, conditions may be too cool. It can take up to three weeks for seeds to germinate when the soil temperature is around 65ºF. and seeds won’t germinate at all if the soil temperature is below 65ºF. After seedlings appear, move the container to a bright, sunny window or place under plant lights. When seedlings have a couple sets of leaves, thin to the strongest plant by pinching or cutting excess seedlings at the soil line.
Eggplants can be transplanted into the garden when the air temperatures are usually above 70ºF during the day and are usually above 45ºF at night. The soil temperature should be at least 60ºF. To warm the soil, cover the bed with a sheet of plastic mulch after preparing the soil for planting. The plastic can be left on throughout the growing season to prevent weeds and retain moisture.
Before transplanting the tender seedlings into the garden they need to be hardened-off, allowing them to adjust to the outdoor conditions. Place seedlings outdoors in a shaded or protected location for short periods of time, about 4 hours per day to start. Each day, leave plants outdoors for a couple hours longer and gradually move into brighter light conditions. Check your containers regularly to make sure the soil is moist and water if necessary. After 10-14 days plant in the garden.
Starting from Transplants
In addition to selling seed in packets, many catalog and internet seed companies also offer their varieties as live plants shipped to your home. Local garden centers offer eggplant seedlings but your variety selection may be more limited. Purchase only healthy, compact plants with green leaves. Avoid plants that show signs of insects, disease or yellowing which may indicate a problem with the roots or nutrition. Plants that are stressed in the container may take more time to become established in the garden, develop poorly and have reduced yields.
Some plants are sold in “plantable” containers that are put directly in the soil along with the plant to help minimize root damage and transplant shock. The roots are able to grow through the pot which will break down over the growing season. To remove plants from a plastic pot, push up on the bottom of the container; don’t pull plants by the stem. Gently loosen the soil around the roots and place in the ground so that the plant is at the same level as in the pot.
Growing in Containers
Growing eggplants in containers add color and ornamental beauty to decks and patios, as well as a harvest of nourishing vegetables. It’s a great way to turn any surface into a productive vegetable garden. Containers also provide a good solution if you are short on garden space or simply want to enjoy the convenience. Dwarf eggplant varieties grow well in an 8-inch diameter pot or even a deep window box. Larger varieties need a 12-inch diameter pot or 5-gallon container so roots have room to develop. Make sure the container has drainage for excess water. Then fill with a soilless mix designed for container gardening. For easy maintenance, choose a mix that contains a slow-release fertilizer for healthy plant growth. After transplanting check the soil regularly and water as needed, especially during the heat of summer and when eggplants begin to form on the plant.