Hints for Growing Eggplant, Tomatoes and Peppers.
When the plant is 6 inches tall, cut off the top tip, this will cause it to grow more branches, hence more fruit. Further trimming of the tips of branches 6 inches long will do the same thing. Just cut off the tip even it it has a leaf on the end.
Nightshades are heavy feeders meaning they needs fertilizer of some type. A companion way is to plant cowpeas around the base of the plant. Manure works well. If you use a bagged fertilizer, something in the 5-7-7 to 5-8-8 range is best, the second and third numbers need to be higher than the first.
Ichiban and all the long skinny eggplants work well in a tomato cage as do most pepper plants.
The large oval Eggplants like Black Beauty should be staked up with a heavy pole.
Don’t waste money on tomato cages for nearly all types of tomatoes. They grow so big in Florida, just take a piece of fence and wrap it in a circle around the plant. It’s even better if you can find fence 5 to 6 ft tall. Those familiar with concrete reinforcing wire (looks like ungalvanized cow panels) works really well and can be bought up very tall. Tomatoes in Florida can reach 6 ft easily and sometimes higher.
Indeterminate tomatoes mean they fruit and keep fruiting through the season. ideal for picking a fresh one for salad. Determinate tomatoes fruit once nearly all at once, which makes them a good choice for canning.
Larger spacing in the 36 to 48 inch range on plants gives them more sun and air to reduce fungus problems that can occur.
Most common pests are aphids, worms and moth larva. Aphids can be dealt with by buying or encouraging Ladybugs in the yard. Neem and Pyrethrins are both organic solutions for Aphids.
Worms and larva are best controlled with BT and DE or just picking them off!
How to make Nightshades grow faster and larger. The ones you’re buying have already been transferred to a 3 to 4 in pot. So that step is done. Otherwise wait for 3 to 4 sets of adult leaves before moving to a 3 to 4 inch pot on a tomato. One good set of adult leaves on a Pepper or Eggplant.
Once a Tomato, Eggplant or Pepper is 6 to 8 inches tall move to a one gallon pot. Remove the bottom leaves and bury 1/3 to 1/2 of its stem.
Let that grow to about 12 inches, then remove the bottom leaves and plant 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottom of the stem underground in the garden or large final growing pot. Final pots should be at least 5 gallons for a full sized plant.
The idea of so much transplanting on nightshades is two fold. Mainly they root very easily and all that stem you buy becomes new roots greatly increasing its root ball. It also put roots down deeper in the garden for water. Nightshades are also heave nitrogen feeders so moving to a new pot replenished high nitrogen soils while it’s growing when it used the most.
But once in the ground or final container use a 5-7-7 to 5-7-8 fertilizer to encourage fruit and root growth not foliage. High first number which is nitrogen which they need young, will limit fruit once out in the garden.