Growing Eggplant

Growing eggplant varieties in the home garden. Eggplant has specific requirements, but it is easy to grow.

Eggplant is native to Asia, and it was first thought to be poisonous, according to the Tri-City Herald article "One Era's Poison, Another's Fruit", written by Marianne C. Ophardt, and published by the Tri-City Herald in 1996. It goes on to say that eggplant is related to the nightshade which is a highly toxic plant, and it is a relative of peppers and tomatoes. Eggplant is hardly toxic, and it can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be dipped in batter and fried, and it is often an ingredient in meatless main dishes.

Some of the many varieties of eggplant to consider planting are listed and described by the University of Georgia Department of Horticulture in their website article entitled "1996 Commercial Vegetable Variety Trials - Eggplant", written by William Terry Kelley, Extension Horticulturist, and are as follows.

There are several listed varieties of white fleshed eggplant. Ghostbuster is a hearty variety that matures approximately eighty days after planting. Santana also matures in about eighty days. This tasty variety grows fewer spines than most. An earlier variety to consider is Snowy. Casper is also an earlier variety that matures in about seventy days.

Black Beauty, one of the purple varieties, has bushy foliage and matures in approximately sixty days. Classic, another purple variety, is best suited in warm winter growing locations and matures in about seventy-six days. Epic is a delicious and popular produce market variety which grows to maturity in approximately sixty-four days.

There are many other wonderful varieties to choose from. Mail order publications often have several types available. Be sure to check the plant hardiness zone for your particular location and recommended dates for planting.

According to the book "Burpee: Complete Gardener", seeds can be planted inside about two and one half to three months before transplanting outdoors in the spring. It suggests repotting young plants when they are about two inches in height and gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions before planting in the garden.

"Burpee: Complete Gardener" says eggplant can be affected by the same insects and diseases as tomatoes, and it recommends planting disease resistant varieties and varying plant locations each year. Some of the commonly found insects to watch out for are listed in the same book. They are the Japanese beetle, aphid, potato beetle, and flea beetle.

Eggplant can be picked when it reaches the size you prefer, according to "Burpee: Complete Gardener". Larger eggplant has many seeds that some people find bitter and undesirable. The same article suggests cutting eggplant off the vine with about an inch of stem remaining on the fruit. They should be used soon after picking because they do not store well.

Eggplant is a pleasure to grow, and its uses are many. It is a delicious addition to any garden.

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