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Eggplant – July Gardening Tips from The Culinary View

Tips for your Garden in July

as recommended by Charla Anthony

Timing is always important for gardening, but never more so than in late summer when starting warm season crops for a fall garden. The best planting dates are short intervals of time for vegetables like tomatoes that must be planted in July. And it is all about using varieties like Early Girl with the smallest number of days to harvest. You are in a race against the clock with the first fall frost.

Also, what some call the best time of growing – the cool season garden – kicks off in the heat of July, too. How is that for opposites? While all young plants will require protective shading from the afternoon sun, as temperatures drop, your plants will flourish. They will have fewer pests and it’s comfortable for you to be outdoors. Much less work, with plenty to harvest – now that’s a good thing.

Things to plant:
– Seeds of both bush and pole beans, corn, cucumber, mustard greens, turnips and both summer and winter squash.
– Small plants of cucumber, peppers, Swiss chard and tomato. Also -oregano, mint, thyme and cloves of garlic.

Things to harvest:
– Cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, field peas and squash. Also -melons, pears and of course, grapes.

Eggplant can often be harvested in July. A relative of tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, it isn’t bothered by the hot weather and keeps producing into the fall. Europeans call it an aubergine, in reference to is deep, rich purple color. But I once grew a white eggplant called ‘Caspar’ and was tender and delicious. Recently, I learned of a French/Italian heirloom variety ‘Listada de Gandia’ – just the name makes me want to grow it. The most commonly grown eggplant in Texas is the heirloom ‘Black Beauty’ that is big and so purple, it looks black. Then there are the long, narrow Asian eggplants that are quite tender and favored by many.

Plant: March to early June and also mid to late July in Central Texas
Light: 8 hours of full sun
Water: 1-2 inches per week
Soil needs: Well-drained sandy or sandy loam
Fertilization: moderate

Whichever one you choose, they are fairly easy to grow and would look nice planted in a landscape, rather than a traditional garden. They can take the heat of a Texas’ August and that is saying a lot.

Charla Anthony is the former horticulturist for Brazos County at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
For local gardening information, visit the website: brazosmg.com.

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