Eggplants are also known as aubergines and are an edible, non-poisonous species of nightshade. They are related to both tomatoes and potatoes.

Eggplants can be grown from seed or seedlings. Seedlings can be planted in early Spring, but if it’s still cold, wait until October.

Eggplants generally grow without a lot of attention. Fertilise the soil well (chook poo and mulch) before planting, and water well to give them a good start.  Cover the bed with a thick layer of sugar cane mulch (or similar) to keep them warm.

Give each plant plenty of room to grow, and allow air to circulate around the plants.  You may need to stake the plants when they start fruiting to prevent the core stem from breaking or the fruit from lying in the dirt.

How can you tell if an eggplant is ready to pick? Hold the eggplant and gently squeeze it with your fingertips. The skin should be a little elastic and spring back when you release it. If it remains indented, its not ripe yet.

There are loads of varieties of eggplants and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours.  I am a big fan of the Slim Jim (long, black ones), as they are easy to grow and less bitter than some of the bigger varieties