Eggplant is a warm season vegetable that does best when planted later in the spring. Like other warm season plants, eggplant can be damaged by frost. However, eggplant also grows very slowly in cool weather, so it is best to wait until temperatures are over 70 degrees every day to put eggplant outside.
Eggplant has a long growing season, so there is a benefit to starting seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before planting outdoors. Transplants will start bearing fruit in 2-3 months. Our growing season in the Carolinas is long enough that there is time to direct sow from seed into the garden. If you plant from seed, expect to pick eggplants in 3-4 months, which will be toward the end of summer.
The plant grows fairly large, so plant them 2 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart. There are many varieties of eggplant, but most popular varieties grow into a purple oval shaped fruit. Eggplants are ready to harvest when they reach the appropriate size, or when the side of the fruit is pressed slightly with your thumbnail, and an indentation remains. Make sure to pick eggplants before the flesh becomes tough, or before the seeds start to harden. When the plant starts to bear fruit, harvest eggplants once or twice each week.
Elsewhere in the garden, we are keeping it watered in the dry weather, and are weeding frequently. With the recent warm weather, our plants have been growing quickly, and the pepper plants are getting tall enough to stake. This will help the plants stay vertical on windy days, and will help especially when peppers make the plants top heavy. Also we need to continue to inspect our tomato plants, and pinch off suckers.