Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A rainbow of eggplants in the garden

I have already admitted my compulsion to plant a wide variety of eggplants. Not only do I love to eat eggplants, but I find both the plants and the vegetables gorgeous. Right now, our plants are loaded with lavender flowers which I am trying to hand-pollinate daily. Eggplant flowers are "perfect" meaning there are no males and females. So the only trick is to get the pollen where it needs to be to fertilize the blossom. I use a make-up brush for the job, and gently brush the insides of each flower. I wipe off the brush when I switch from one eggplant variety to another, but I'm not overly cautious. We may end up with some bizarre Sfumata-Hybrid Tiger cross that should make for interesting conversation.

If the flowers are not fertilized, their stems stay thin and the blossoms soon drop off the plants. The fertilized blooms, by contrast, quickly transform. First the flower petals close, then the stems thicken noticeably, and soon a baby eggplant is peeking out from below. We have lots of these little eggplants in various stages of maturity right now. You can harvest and use them while they're small, or let them grow larger.

We have had several days of heat advisories, with temperatures over 100 degrees and little rain. The eggplants love this weather, and every day there are new flowers in shades of purple and lavender. These high temperatures make any hard work in the garden almost impossible. Thankfully, the eggplants are very low-maintenance. They don't need to be watered or fertilized, and they don't have any pest problems. They don't even need my help with pollinating, but that's the one job I can manage in the heat. Soon we'll have Sfumata (variegated purple and white), Thai Long Green (lime green), Black Beauty (dark purple), and Cloud Nine (white) eggplants to harvest. This should make for some beautiful and tasty meals. I hope the other 8 varieties in the garden are close behind.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.