Whether the soil in your area is unsuitable for gardening, you are limited on space or you simply enjoy the convenience of picking fresh vegetables from comfort of your deck or patio, container gardens provide a convenient alternative. Growing fresh eggplant provides you with tasty young fruit ready for all your culinary needs. These heat-loving plants thrive in rich well-drained soil in a sunny location. Planting one or two eggplants typically provides enough fresh eggplant for a family of three or four.
Select a 5-gallon container with several drainage holes. If the pot does already have drainage holes, drill four to six holes, ½ inch in diameter, evenly spaced around the bottom of the pot or bucket. The UC Davis Extension recommends a container with a depth of 14 to 16 inches.
Fill the container three-quarters full with moist potting medium. Garden loam or commercial potting soil is too dense for container gardens. Combine equal parts peat moss, perlite, potting soil and compost to make your potting mixture.
Transplant eggplant seedlings to the container after all danger of frost has passed in your area. Kansas State University recommends Bambino or Fairy Tale eggplant for containers, but adds that any standard eggplant is fine. Position the plants to the original planting depth and fill in around the roots with soil. Firm down with your hands to secure to plant. Water thoroughly until water runs free from the bottom of the pot.
Place the container in a sunny location that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Check the area throughout the day to determine the amount of sunlight. Look for shadows cast by buildings or trees at varying times. What appears to be a sunny location at midday may actually be shaded for several hours as the sun passes behind buildings or other structures.
Water when the soil dries 1 to 2 inches below the soil level. Check the soil by inserting your finger into the soil. Observing the surface of the soil can be deceiving. Water until water runs free from the bottom of the pot. Container-grown vegetables may require daily watering, depending on the weather and size of the plant.
Apply water-soluble fertilizer every seven days, as recommended by the Ohio State University Extension. Look for fertilizer with a formula of 20-20-20 or 15-20-15 for best results. Container-grown plants require frequent fertilizer, as nutrients leach from the soil through the drainage holes when watered.
Harvest eggplant when the fruit is 4 to 6 inches long. Gently squeeze the flesh between your thumb and forefinger. According to the University of Illinois Extension, eggplant is ripe if the flesh feels spongy and bounces back when released.