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Guide to growing all other veggies

This section includes advice for eggplants, tomatillos, and leafy greens.


Eggplants do best in warm to hot summers. The Nadia variety does bear in colder temps, but all eggplants have trouble setting fruit if the nighttime temperatures dip below 60 degrees F. Remember that eggplant leaves are toxic.

Planting Your Seedlings

  • Plant out when the days are consistently above 70 degrees and the nights are above 55.
  • In a cooler area, consider planting eggplants in large containers, which have warmer soil. Other tricks to raise the temp: cover the soil with plastic before planting to warm it and use light fabric row covers.
  • Space the seedlings 2 to 3 feet apart. Stake or cage plants to protect branches from breaking and keep fruit off the soil.
  • Eggplant is a nightshade plant, like tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and potatoes. To minimize disease problems, don’t plant eggplant where it or another nightshade has recently been planted.


  • Feed eggplants monthly with a fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus, and medium in nitrogen.
  • Water deeply around each plant, especially during flowering and fruit production. You can reduce watering after fruits form, but still provide regular moisture.
  • In heat over 95 degrees, try shade covers to protect plants.
  • If you have flowers but little fruit, try to hand-pollinate by gently shaking the flowers.


  • Eggplant is mature when pressing the plant leaves a slight indentation.
  • Cut the fruit off. To keep the plant producing fruit, don’t leave mature fruit on the plants

Additional resources


Tomatillos are a small tomato-like fruit that develops in lantern-like papery husks, used frequently in salsas and sauces.

Where, When, and How to Plant Your Seedlings

  • Tomatillos need at least six hours of sunlight per day.
  • As with tomatoes, when planting bury half of the plant below the soil line to encourage root growth from the stem.
  • Space plants about two feet apart and provide support such as a cage or stake, as tomatillo plants can grow up to four feet tall.
  • Tomatillos require cross-pollination, so plant at least two of the same variety close together for proper pollination.
  • Tomatillos are susceptible to powdery mildew, so try to give them a warm sunny location with temperatures above 80 degrees F to prevent mildew.
  • Tomatillo is a nightshade plant, like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. To minimize disease problems, don’t plant tomatillo where it or another nightshade has recently been planted.

Soil and Fertilizer

Use a balanced fertilizer if plant growth seems insufficient.


Water newly transplanted tomatillos in a similar manner to tomatoes. Reduce irrigation once fruit has set. Mulch around plants to retain soil moisture.


Harvest when the papery husk splits open or turns brown and leathery, and before the fruit turns yellow. Cut the fruit from the plant.

Leafy greens

Chard and Kale

Chard can be grown year round, but kale can be tricky in the summer, particularly if you live East of the East Bay hills, where temps can be well over 90 degrees F. High temperatures and strong sun may lead to a bitter taste. If you have consistent high temps in summer and still want to grow kale, find a cool spot to place it, or wait until fall or early spring to plant it. Chard is more tolerant and in most places in the county can be grown year round.

  • Plant chard seedlings 12-15 inches apart; kale seedlings up to 18 inches apart.
  • For chard, use a balanced fertilizer like a 5-10-10 at the time of planting according to package instructions. No other fertilizing is generally needed during the season. For kale, also add nitrogen (perhaps alfalfa pellets) near planting time, as kale is a heavy feeder.
  • Both kale and chard need moist soil. Keep the soil consistently moist by watering deeply, and mulching around plants.
  • Outer leaves can be harvested continuously as soon as the plant is well established. Harvest by cutting or breaking away the leaf.
  • New leaves develop in the center of the plants
  • For chard, watch out for pests like leafminers, especially in warmer weather. To avoid leafminers, plant chard in the fall and grow it over the winter.
  • Kale is one of the brassica family, and so is susceptible to cabbage worms, especially in warm weather. Try to avoid these by placing lightweight spun cloth row covers to keep the butterflies from laying eggs on the leaves or grow it in the winter when the butterflies have died off for the winter


  • Arugula is a high water user and requires frequent, uniform watering due to shallow roots. Sandy soils need more frequent watering in smaller amounts.
  • Arugula prefers cooler temperatures, so in warm to hot areas, it may do better in partial shade. Arugula bolts (sends up a flower stalk and becomes less tasty) quickly in warm weather and lengthening daylight; consistent watering and lowering the temperature can slow that.
  • Bitterness may result from hot weather or inadequate watering.
  • Harvest outer leaves regularly to encourage continuous growth. Younger leaves have a milder taste.