Just a few years ago, I became acquainted with the wonderful eggplant.
I was at a friend’s house and he fixed grilled eggplant Parmesan.
Oh how wonderful it was and it tasted very similar to the omnivore type that I have had many times.
After I had this dish, I was determined to grow my own. Through my own experience, I have developed four secrets to growing wonderful eggplants and handling the tough ones.
1. Buy at the right time. Many gardeners buy their plants too early and in doing so plant them too early. Eggplants should be bought late in the season once the soil has warmed. The plants that you choose should be fruit and bloom free. If you have to buy your plants early, plant them in a gallon container and move outside when the days warm.
2. Plant at the right time. Eggplants do not do well when the temperatures are cool. They also do not do well when planted early and protected with cloches. The best time to plant eggplant is when the soil warms or as soon as your local frost-free date has passed.
3. Feed at the right time. Eggplants like to be fed once or twice during the growing season. Only feed them with well-seasoned manure, compost or fish emulsion. Any of these substances will provide the potassium, which is needed for bloom and fruit production.
4. Pick at the right time. Picking eggplants at the right time can make eggplant production worth your time. Eggplants that are bright and shiny are ready to pick. Those that are dull have passed their prime, which means mature seeds and tough skins. If you have “aged” eggplants, do not discard them. Use them as purees or soups. This will prevent their tough nature from showing through. If your eggplants are bitter, cut them up as required for your recipe and place in a colander. Sprinkle sea salt over the vegetable and place a plate over the top with a weight. The salt will draw out the bitterness and the weight will push it out.
Eggplants are one of the more exotic vegetables that one can grow in their garden space. Practicing these four secrets will help you grow the best eggplants possible.
So until we blog again, eggplants may come and go but their color will always be that of a tequila sunrise.