Eggplant

 

The plants in my garden are just sprouting beautiful purple bulbous things. And the flower that precedes the edible part are a beautiful light lavender/pink with lines of darker purple to come. Such a miracle.

 

For years the only contact I had with eggplant was in eggplant parmesan at random Italian restaurants always delicious and I never had a clue as to how to prepare it or its characteristics.

 

Eggplant is a cold-sensitive vegetable that requires a long warm season for best yields. Hopefully the weather will hold so we can get some good ones. The culture of eggplant is similar to that of bell pepper, with transplants being set in the garden after all danger of frost is past. Eggplants are slightly larger plants than peppers and are spaced slightly farther apart.

 

Given sufficient moisture and fertility, eggplant thrives in the heat of summer. The plants tolerate dry weather after they are well established but should be watered during extended dry periods for good yields. Eggplant should be harvested when the fruits are 6 to 8 inches long and glossy. You should cut, rather than break or twist the stems (sometimes there are prickles. Many eggplant varieties have small prickly thorns on the stem and calyx (on the top of the flower), so be careful and/or wear gloves when harvesting. Leave the large (usually green) calyx attached to the fruit. When the fruits become dull or brown, they are too mature and should be cut off and discarded. Overmature fruits are spongy and seedy and may be bitter. Even properly harvested fruits do not store well and should be eaten soon after they are harvested. Large, vigorous plants can yield as many as four to six fruits at the peak of the season.

 

The flea beetle loves to chomp on the leaves (many holes). Monterey spray helps, as does planting green beans close by.   Hope there will soon have a bumper crop to slice, paint with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper. So delicious -- and simple.