07 September 2008

Flowers But No Fruit?

I have had several people ask me how we grow such great looking eggplant and want to know why they had problems this year with their eggplant. They seem to have beautiful plants and lots of flowers, but no fruit on their plants. There are several answers to this problem, and the answer for each person's garden may be one or a combination of both. First, we need to remember that while it is important to fertilize regularly, too much Nitrogen will offset the fruiting capability of the plant. In essence, the Nitrogen encourages plant growth, so that the foliage and plant itself grow and remain healthy, but while the plant grows, the Nitrogen does nothing to encourage fruit set. In other words, the plant puts its energy into growth, rather than fruit production. Because of this, you may have some flowers, but they may be dropping off the plant prematurely, before pollination occurs. By changing the ratio of elements in the fertilizer, we can regulate how our plants grow on the farm. However, the home gardener may not have the capability to do this. The fertilizers we use on the farm that are available commercially are available as individual elements; for example, we can get Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous by themselves and in different concentrations than is available in a pre-mixed form for the home gardener. Thus, by regulating the concentration of certain elements and the frequency, we can regulate plant growth and fruit set. I would recommend looking for a vegetable fertilizer that is a bit higher in Potassium and Phosphorous than Nitrogen. For more information on fertilizers, see the post titled
"Indoor Gardening Part 4; Soil and Fertilizer" You will find it in this blog under the tag for fertilizers.
Secondly; eggplant is in the tomato family as are peppers. I know, I know...sounds weird, right? But it's true. For the purposes of this discussion, let's just say they are pollinated in the same fashion, by wind. They do not need bees to pollinate, like cucumbers and squash do. Here in the Northeast, we've had lots of rain. Especially from Albany and to the north. If it had been raining hard, like it has been, during the time of pollination, then the rainstorm would have interfered with the pollination of the eggplant, tomatoes or peppers. So you would have lots of flowers, but no fruit because there was no pollination to enable the fruit to grow. So I hope that helps my friends who were having trouble with their eggplant. Any further questions, please feel free to comment and ask. For great gardening info & tips, Click Here!

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