Our eggplant were planted on May 5th, and they have been growing well. Eggplant grows well in hot weather, and it is usually one of the last plants in the ground in the springtime. Eggplants take 65-80 days to produce fruit after planting. Now that the plants have matured, we can now pick and enjoy some.
When eggplant reach the appropriate size, they should be picked. If they are left on the plant too long, they get tough, and the seeds start to harden. Italian eggplant should be large and shiny with a solid purple color. When the side of the fruit is pressed slightly with the thumbnail, and an indentation remains, the fruit is ripe.
Remove eggplant with clippers and store in the fridge for up to a week. Keep checking back at least once a week to keep harvesting eggplant.
If you planted pumpkins in the spring, after the danger of frost had safely passed, you are probably harvesting your pumpkins right now. But what fun are pumpkins in July? It does not seem right to start decorating for Fall when the heat index is topping 100… and there is no way those pumpkins are going to make it until October. They will quickly deteriorate.
If you want home grown pumpkins for Halloween, you need to consult a calendar. Just count back from Halloween the number of days that your seed packet says that the pumpkins take to grow. Different varieties of pumpkins have a wide variety of maturity times, ranging from 70 days to 120 days.
A typical pumpkin variety takes 90-110 days to mature, and they should be planted in the first half of July to be ready to harvest in late October.
Growing pumpkins for Halloween in South Carolina is difficult. They are easier to grow in the spring since there are fewer diseases and insects to worry about. However, pumpkins picked early in the summer are not as hardy and will go bad quicker than fall pumpkins. Planting pumpkins now for fall can be difficult. We are in the height of disease, mildew, and insect season, and it takes some extra care to keep the vines alive through the rest of July and August.
Bacterial wilt is a common problem with pumpkins. Do not plant pumpkins in the same area where squash, cucumbers or melon have grown in the past few years. Keep an eye out for powdery and downy mildew and treat accordingly. Also watch for insects, especially vine borers and squash bugs. Once you have pumpkins, place a barrier under ripening fruit to prevent rot. An old shingle will work better than paper or cardboard which will hold water.
Harvest only mature pumpkins with a deep orange color. Cut them from the vine, do not tear them, and leave a nice, long stem.