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(Solanum melogena) - Eggplant is a member of the large and diverse nightshade family. They love hot weather, and although Nova Scotia isn't exactly famed eggplant growing territory, we've collected a few favourite varieties that have proven to thrive here.

Growing: Eggplant seeds should be started early indoors. I like to sow mine mid-March, the same time as peppers. They do best when provided lots of light and warmth, I've found using grow lights makes a huge difference getting them started.

Transplant outdoors after summer warmth has arrived, usually mid-June around here. Choose a site with maximum sun. Eggplants do best in fertile soil with plenty of compost, but don't over-do the nitrogen, which can lead to wild foliage at the expense of fruit. They don't require staking the same way tomatoes do, and are fairly low maintenance once they get going.

One thing you'll want to keep an eye out for though, is the Colorado Potato Beetle... that most dreaded of insect herbivore. They love eggplant leaves even more than potato. My tip: pick off the bright-orange egg clusters which get laid on the underside of the leaves. They're easier to spot than the larvae themselves.

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