Thursday, June 5, 2014

Aubergine - Growing Eggplant

The fruit from eggplants (aubergines ) are beautiful...and this one's so beautiful, I had to share it with you.  Notice the profile?.....almost as handsome as mine.  We ate it anyway.  Stuffed.
Originally posted 6-30-10

 Pure Black Castings™      VermaPlex®              VermaMax® 

Aubergine container garden
Eggplant (Aubergine), With a Nose

Eggplant (Aubergine) Seeds or Plants

We used seedlings from the local nursery, although eggplants  start easily from seeds.  The seeds need to be started 8-10 weeks before planting and we were in a hurry to get them out.  Luckily, eggplants thrive in containers.  Using one of our larger self-watering containers, we put one plant to a pot and set them about the garden, choosing the sunniest sites.  The eggplant plant itself is beautiful  and can be used, like Okra, as an ornamental.

Eggplants require fertile, well-drained soils rich in organic matter with a ph of 5.8-6.8.  Our self-watering containers provide constant moisture and it's potting soil mix (with extra calcium added) provides the perfect eggplant growing medium.

We hardened off the seedlings before transplanting them into the garden pots when the nighttime temps reached 60 degrees. After digging a hole in the soil, we added eight ounces of Pure Black Castings ® and sprayed with VermaPlex ® before planting the eggplant.   We added 2 ounces of Vermaplex® to the water reservoir after planting and then followed every 7-14 days with adding one ounce of this liquid soil inoculant.

Eggplants are Beautiful, But.....

Eggplants are in the nightshade family (Solanaceae family), along with tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Plants like these contain alkaloids, which are poisonous.  So, don't eat anything but the fruit and watch out that your pets don't consume the plant  (I hear ya).

Eggplant Pests and Diseases: 

  • Flea Beetles: This is the biggest problem for eggplant growers.  These pests chew leaves and spread disease. Floating row covers are helpful.
  • Verticillium Wilt:  Protect yourself by buying resistant varieties and changing your planting area from year to year.

Harvesting Eggplant:

Pick eggplants when they are shiny and firm, but not hard.  If you pick before they are fully grown, you will encourage more fruit to set.  Remember to cut the fruits off the plant rather than pulling them.  You can store harvested eggplants in a cool spot fro 1-2 weeks.

Eggplant Facts:

Eggplant comes in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes.  Oblong eggplant varieties mature slower than the long, oriental  ones.  Shapes range from long and thin to small and round.  Colors aren't limited to the well-known "aubergine" or black purple.  Eggplants also come in lavender, green, pink and creamy white.  Beautiful as well as delicious.

Eggplants are an excellent addition to your ornamental garden as well as adding a healthy and versatile vegetable to your menu.

Recipes:  Stuffed Eggplant

It's time to stop admiring and start cooking.  Then eating .... my favorite pass time.

Ingredients for stuffed eggplant:

  • 12 6-by-2 inch eggplant
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil (approximately)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground lamb
  • 1 med. tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lg. clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lg. tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 c. water or broth
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
  1. Remove the stems and hulls from the eggplants and discard. Peel each eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch strips, leaving 1/2-inch strips of skin between, making a striped design.
  2. In a heavy skillet heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the eggplants and saute until soft on all sides, adding more oil if necessary. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow flameproof or ovenproof pan.
  3. Add the butter to the skillet and heat. Add the onion and saute until soft but not browned, stirring frequently. Add the lamb and cook until lightly browned, breaking it up with the back of a spoon or fork. Stir in the tomato and green pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add the parsley, salt and pepper, and garlic, mix well, and remove from the heat.
  4. Transfer each eggplant to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan. Slit lengthwise to within 1 inch of both ends on one side only. Stuff the pocket with several spoonfuls of the meat mixture. Return the eggplants to the pan, arranging them next to one another, slashed sides up. Place the tomato over the eggplants, sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, and pour in the water. Cover and simmer gently 40 minutes or bake in a preheated 350 F. oven 40 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook 10 minutes or until the eggplants are tender. Serve with a pilaf or crusty bread and a green salad.
Serves 4
(Hopefully, there's some leftovers for yours truly).

Eggplant Container Garden References:

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