As part of the nightshade family (like tomatoes and peppers) eggplant requires warm temperatures and 100 to 120 frost-free days to reach maturity. In areas with short cool summers, growing eggplant poses a challenge, but they can be grown successfully in home gardens if started indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost in the area and transplanted to the garden after the danger of frost has passed and daytime temperature remain in the 70s.
Fill seed starting flats or trays with moist seed starter. You can make your own mixture with equal parts peat moss and perlite. Seed starter or peat moss is dry and difficult to work with straight from the bag. Pour the starter in a large bowl or bucket, spray with water and stir to moisten the mixture. The mixture should be damp, but not soggy.
Plant eggplant seeds to a depth of ¼ to ½ inch and cover with seed starter. Firm the soil down with your hands to remove air pockets and secure the seeds in place. Mist to moisten the soil and dampen the seed.
Cover the seed trays with clear food wrap if your tray does not have a plastic cover. Place in a warm location. Eggplant germinates in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees F and benefits from gentle bottom heat. Place on top of the water heater or other appliance that emits gentle heat.
Check daily and observe for any signs of mold or mildew on the surface of the soil. If large droplets of water collect on the plastic, open the plastic and allow air to circulate and moisture to evaporate. Plastic covers should look foggy, but should not be dripping with water.
Keep soil moist by misting regularly until seedlings emerge in seven to 14 days, depending on the soil temperatures and the specific cultivar.
Remove the plastic cover and move seedlings to an area that receives bright light for 12 to 14 hours a day.
Apply water-soluble fertilizer diluted to ¼ to ½ strength when seedlings are four weeks old. Repeat weekly.