It’s gardening season, and gardeners everywhere are busy growing, planting, and taking care of fruits and vegetables. If you are hoping to grow both tomatoes and eggplant, you may be wondering if you can grow them together, or would they grow better in separate areas of the garden? In this article, we will take a closer look at tomatoes and eggplant and some of the best strategies for growing each.
Tomatoes and eggplant both thrive in the same growing conditions. Generally speaking, plants that favor similar growing conditions can be grown together in the garden. As long as they don’t interfere with each other’s growth, many plants can be grown together in the same vicinity.
If you have a large garden, you can easily spread plants apart and grow many different varieties without worrying about space. If you have a small garden or limited space, your options will naturally be more limited. But even if you want to grow just one tomato plant and one eggplant, the biggest problem you will have may be narrowing down your choices as to which one variety of each you will choose.
Companion planting is a specific style of gardening where plants are grown together to benefit each other. Companion plants can offer each other support, soil enrichment, pollinator attraction, or pest-repelling properties. Since tomatoes and eggplant don’t offer any true benefits, they may not be considered companion plants, but they can still at least be friendly neighbors.
Let’s now dig a little deeper into what it takes to grow both tomatoes and eggplants. Can you grow these two together? Will they benefit each other or simply be suitable neighbors?
The Quick Answer
Yes, you can grow tomatoes with eggplant. Both tomatoes and eggplant have similar growing needs and thrive in similar conditions. They are both in the nightshade family, however, and will attract many of the same pests and diseases.
Just be sure to give your plants each plenty of space to grow and offer them a healthy dose of nutritious compost during the growing season. In the following year or two, practice crop rotation and grow something from a different family in the plot or plots where you grew the nightshades.
The Detailed Answer
Tomatoes and eggplant are both easy-to-grow summer garden plants. They are both in the nightshade family and share similar growing requirements. If you have a warm summer climate, plenty of sun, and rich, fertile soil, you can grow both tomatoes and eggplants.
You don’t need a huge garden to get started. If you have limited space, you will be happy to note that both eggplant and tomatoes are ideal candidates for raised bed gardening and container gardening.
There are some general keys to success that you can follow to give your plants the greatest growing advantage. Give them each plenty of space to grow so they don’t have to compete for light, moisture, and nutrients.
Give them a boost of organic compost when planting and again mid-season so they each have plenty of nutrition to form healthy roots, leaves, and fruits. Keep a close watch on pets and diseases. If you notice anything amiss, be proactive and take quick action to prevent further damage to your crops.
Companion planting is a useful gardening practice where different plants are grown together in arrangements where one helps the other. Companion plants can provide structure or support, can improve growing conditions, enrich the soil, attract pollinators, or repel pests.
There are plenty of plants that can offer benefits to others. They may be vegetables, flowers, or herbs. As long as they have beneficial properties, they can make excellent companions.
Other plants can be grown together because they require similar conditions, but they don’t necessarily offer each other any distinct benefits. Tomatoes and eggplants are compatible in this way. They can be grown together but don’t offer any particular benefits to each other.
If grown too close together, any plant can crowd out another and compete for light, soil moisture, and nutrients. Plants in the same family often attract the same pests and diseases, so this is also something to be aware of and a reason to rotate crops each year.
|Companion Plants for Tomatoes||Companion Plants for Eggplant|
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is an annual fruiting plant with an amazing number of varieties and cultivars for the home gardener.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular garden plants because they are easy to grow in any sunny location. Plus, once you taste a real homegrown tomato, you’ll never want to eat a store-bought tomato again!
Many tomato plants are large and sprawling, capable of producing tomatoes from mid-summer until the first frost. There are also compact hybrid tomatoes for gardeners with limited space and some varieties that produce one large harvest before dying back.
You can grow a rainbow assortment of tiny tomatoes, extra meaty tomatoes for canning, and giant slicing tomatoes that are perfect for eating anytime.
Every garden deserves to have at least one tomato plant. If all you have are some large pots on a sunny balcony, you can grow a tomato. If you are fortunate enough to have an entire garden row for tomatoes, you can grow an exciting variety of fruits.
To extend your seasonal harvest, plant several different cultivars including early-maturing and late-maturing varieties, so you can really maximize your tomato harvest!
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is an annual fruiting garden plant producing interesting egg-shaped or oblong fruits that can be cooked into a variety of tasty meals. Eggplants are easy to grow but tend to be prone to insect pests, making them a bit of a challenge for the novice gardener.
If you have seen only one variety of eggplant at your local grocery store, you may be quite surprised by the many colorful varieties that can be found in seed catalogs.
Don’t be afraid to try something different. If you like to eat eggplants, you will love exploring some of these more unique varieties, from rounded, white, egg-shaped fruits to long, thin, green, and purple-striped fruits. They’re all delicious!
Timing of Planting
If you want the most options for which varieties to grow, try starting plants from seeds. Tomato and eggplant seeds can be started indoors in the early spring.
After all danger of frost, and the seedlings are several inches tall, you can transplant them outdoors. If you don’t want to deal with starting plants from seed, you can easily buy young plants in the spring from your local garden center. They can be transplanted into your garden anytime after the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.
Since eggplant and tomatoes are both warm-season crops, the ideal time to plant them outside is after the soil has warmed to at least 60°F and daytime temperatures are consistently warm. Nighttime temperatures should stay above 50°F.
Phases of cold temperatures can slow growth and inhibit fruiting. If you accidentally plant outside too soon, you can cover your plants for an occasional cold night and then uncover them the following morning.
Do you have a big garden with traditional rows? Are you growing in a raised bed or practicing square-foot gardening? Or do you have a sunny spot with a big pot or two? No matter which gardening style to have, you can grow both tomatoes and eggplant. If you are growing plants in pots on a sunny back deck, you will probably grow only one plant per pot.
If you are growing in a raised bed, square foot gardening, or any other garden style, you can grow tomatoes and eggplant as close neighbors, but be sure to give them each plenty of space. Both of these plants are fairly heavy feeders and won’t want to compete for nutrients.
They each need full sun, so they should not be in direct competition for light either. Be especially careful with light because tomatoes can grow tall and easily shade out your eggplants.
You should have no trouble making room for both tomatoes and eggplants as long as you know how large they grow and give them enough space.
You can help keep tomatoes upright by planting them in a tomato cage or tying them to stakes to keep them from sprawling. With full-size tomato plants, square-foot gardening can be challenging, so you may want to consider planting dwarf varieties to save space.
Ideal Growing Conditions
Both tomatoes and eggplant thrive in the same conditions. So if you have ideal conditions for one, you can easily grow the other. This list includes the basic growing preferences for both tomatoes and eggplants. Pay particularly close attention to the space needs of these plants. Crowded plants compete for space, and this can cause stunted growth and poor harvest.
|Light||Grow these plants in full sun. They should receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.|
|Water||Ideal water requirements are 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Try to keep the soil consistently moist. Inconsistent watering, allowing the soil to become very dry and then watering heavily, will result in damaged fruits, especially for tomatoes.|
|Soil||Grow your plants in nutrient-rich soil that is high in organic matter. Soil should be loose and well-drained. Avoid heavy clay soils.|
|Nutrients||Producing quality fruits requires plenty of nutrients. Work in some organic compost at planting time. When plants are beginning to fruit, you can add a second helping of compost or add another organic fertilizer to encourage larger, healthier fruits.|
|Mulch||Adding biodegradable mulch, such as wheat straw, around your garden plants can help retain soil moisture, increase soil fertility, and even help protect from some pests. Mulch in the spring and then work the mulch into the soil after frost.|
|Space||Allow each plant plenty of room to grow. You should leave a minimum of 12 to 18 inches between plants. Dwarf and compact plants can be grown slightly closer together than full-size indeterminate tomatoes. The more space each plant has, the more sunlight it can absorb.|
|Support||Eggplants don’t typically require support, but tomatoes will almost always benefit from staking or using tomato cages. Install tomato cages when the plants are young and small and they will fill in the cage as they grow. It is nearly impossible to try to work a cage over a fully-grown tomato plant.|
|Season||Both tomatoes and eggplant are warm-season vegetables. Plant them outside when the nighttime temperatures stay above 50°F. Plants will grow and fruit throughout the warmest months and will die after the first frost.|
|Harvest||Tomatoes can be harvested anywhere from 60 to 100 days after sowing seeds. Eggplant may take only slightly longer, maturing between 70 and 100 days after sowing. Healthy plants will continue fruiting until the first frost. Days to maturity will vary depending on the variety of plants you have and growing conditions.|
There are plenty of common pests that will happily devour your plants. There is some overlap in pests that both tomatoes and eggplant share and others that seem to prefer one plant over the other. Keep a close watch on your plants throughout the entire growing season so you can catch any problems early. You can minimize pest damage by being proactive and taking quick action if you notice a problem.
Tomato plants are highly vulnerable to tomato hornworms. These large green caterpillars can eat through numerous leaves in a very short time. Fortunately, tomato hornworms are easy to identify and easy to remove. Smaller insect pests can also cause leaf damage, commonly including aphids, flea beetles, and spider mites.
Eggplants seem to be a favorite of flea beetles. These pesky little black beetles eat numerous small holes in the leaves until the leaf is nothing but veins. Colorado potato beetles are larger black and yellow-striped beetles that cause extensive leaf damage by chewing. Other pests commonly seen on eggplants include aphids and whiteflies, which suck plant juices through piercing mouthparts.
Both eggplant and tomato plants also suffer from some bacterial and fungal diseases. Keep an eye on any signs of rotten fruits, including dark, soft, and sunken spots on the fruits. Rotten spots can easily ruin a harvest. Planning ahead and practicing crop rotation is one of the best strategies to avoid many diseases transmitted through contaminated soils and diseased plant materials.
Keep your plants the healthiest by giving them ideal conditions. Bright sunlight and moist nutrient-rich soil can go a long way in supporting a healthy crop.
Try interspersing some pest-repelling companion plants, such as garlic, nasturtium, and marigold. Allowing plenty of space between plants can also keep pests at bay and allow your plants to grow to their fullest potential.
You are now ready to grow tomatoes and eggplants, and if you have a bit of space, you can easily grow these two together. One of the best things about growing these crops simultaneously is that you can harvest them together and make some delicious tomato and eggplant meals!
Provide ideal growing conditions with plenty of sunlight, compost-rich soil, and uniform soil moisture. Watch for pests and diseases so you can catch any pests before they become big problems.
One of the best ways to keep your crops healthy is to rotate crops so you don’t grow nightshades in the same location in successive years. A bit of proactive healthy gardening can be a big ticket to success.