Vermont Garden Journal: Eggplant

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I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is
the Vermont Garden Journal. I’ve got a riddle for you. What eggs come in
white, yellow, purple, red, orange and
green and hail from India? It’s really not an egg. It’s the eggplant!

Eggplants have been cultivated in
Asia for thousands for years. Varieties that were brought to Europe in the 18th
century had either yellow or white colored, small fruits, so they were
eggplants. Eggplants didn’t really catch on in this country until more recently
with the popularity of Asian cuisines.

Growing eggplants in Vermont can be
problematic. Like their cousin the tomato, they require long warm days and high
fertility to produce fruits. If we have a cool, cloudy summer, you might get
large plants but few ripening eggplants. But eggplants are worth growing. Newer
varieties are more adapted to short growing seasons, the plants are down right
beautiful in the landscape and the flavor of grilled eggplant, baba ganoush, and
caponata transports you to exotic lands.

Here’s how to grow them. Select
small fruited varieties such as ‘Fairy Tale’ and ‘Thai Green’. They mature
faster, offering more fruit than the large, teardrop-shaped varieties. Amend
your soil well with compost and cover the garden bed with dark plastic mulch a
few weeks before planting. Plant the end of May or early June into the plastic
covering plants during chilly nights. Side dress with an organic fertilizer
once every 3 weeks and keep plants well watered.

In real cool areas, grow eggplants
in 5 gallon black plastic containers, to accumulate heat. Keep the plants well
fertilized and watered. To harvest, press the skin of full-sized fruits. If it
bounces back, they’re ready to eat. If your finger leaves an indent, they’re
over mature and probably bitter. Reduce the bitterness in eggplant by either
soaking them in water for 15 minutes before cooking or removing the skins.

Now for this week’s tip,  rid your lawn of moles by spraying a castor
oil. Moles and voles hate the smell of castor oil and they’ll move quickly

Next week on The Vermont Garden
Journal I’ll be talking about impatiens. Until then, I’ll be seeing you in the

Growing Eggplants

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