Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvest Monday - Little Fingers

I'm talking eggplants of course. This week marks the beginning of eggplant season and may be just a little more excited than when I plucked my first tomato. I know, it's blasphemous but tomatoes are easy compared with this stubbornly heat loving fruit. My first couple years trying to grow these creamy delectable goodies was a failure. The fruit were undersized, whizened and overripe when I plucked them from their thorny branch. Since then, I have learned.

A many digit hand of 'Little Fingers.' Not my favourite variety but cute.

Eggplants are perfectly growable 'round these parts if you follow these tips.

1. They like it HOT, HOT, HOT. In Ottawa, it is probably hard to over do the sun and heat so pile it on. Put them in your sunniest location and heat the ground with clear plastic mulch, plant on a slight southern slope or use any other trick that you know.

2. If you want them big, don't let them go lean. Feed them with compost or well rotted manure and make sure they don't dry out. If you are planting in pots, use a moisture rententive mixture and put a light layer of mulch on the surface.

3. Not all eggplants are created equal. Choose early maturing, cool tolerant varieties. I find that many long asian variety are very early and productive. Applegreen is another excellent cultivar that outperformed my expectations during last year's cloudy, wet weather. I have yet to have luck with any large, Italian varieties, but I will keep on trying!

I would love to hear recommendations of other short / cool Aubergine* winners.

*Memories from the other side of the pond - common name for Solanum melongena in the UK and nearby.


Seeds of Diversity database of Eggplant varieties sold in Canada


Bev said...

I'm very impressed. I'm still waiting for tomatoes, but I had a very late start this year. I'm definitely taking note of your eggplant advice for next year - especially varieties that work here in eastern Ontario.

Robin said...

I just love eggplant! They look yummy. You must be doing something right. I have only harvested 2 and you live in a colder zone then me.

thyme2garden said...

Your eggplants look so darling. Thank you for including your advice for choosing the right eggplant variety to grow. I've never grown eggplant, but I would certainly like to try, and it's really helpful to read tips like yours.

meemsnyc said...

Ooooh eggplants look great! Ours have not grown much in weeks. It is at a standstill.

Angela said...

Lovely eggplants! It seems my eggplants are taking our unusual cool weather better than my tomatoes... Although I do see some of the signs you describe, um...

I'll keep in mind your idea of cool season eggplant varieties.

miss m said...

Nice ! I'm growing 'Long Purple' variety (80 days) in a pot. So far so good. Three fruit have set and one looks ready to harvest soon although I'm not too sure when to pick. Any tips ?

michelle said...

Beautiful! I might have to give that variety a try next year. In spite of the fact that I live in California it doesn't get very hot here and I look for cool/short season eggplant to grow also. Last year I tried Diamond eggplant, a Ukrainian variety, and it was very productive and most important it was delicious and never bitter. It is being really challenged this year by our cooler than usually cool summer, but there seems to be plenty of fruit set, they are just taking longer to size up.

Emily said...

Beautiful eggplant. Mine only just bloomed but it seemed that they took forever to grow when I transplanted them out. Maybe I should have waited and let them size up inside more.

Daphne Gould said...

Usually we have to use tricks to make it warm here because we are so close to the ocean. But this year is unusual and we are getting a lot of heat. If I had planted them this year, I bet they would be growing very well.

mamaraby said...

I love the little eggplants - so much tastier I think than the big ones. So far my favorite is Ichiban.

mac said...

Ooooh, I love the look of those eggplants, they are so pretty and cute! It's on my list to try.
Darn, I have so many new varieties to try and so little space.

lisa anne said...

The blossoms on one of my eggplants have just gone away. No fruit to be seen yet. YET! :) Yours look awesome!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Bev: Applegreen is my absolute favourite for both cool and cloud tolerance. It has good taste and texture too. Yuko's Open Pollinated Seed sells them, along with various others. I only mention her because of her proximity to our growing conditions.

Robin: They are finnicky critters in my experience.

Thyme: Applegreen! I was also just reminded of Violetta in another post. I've not tried it but have heard good things.

Meemsnyc: Let's hope they are just gathering energy to burst into bloom and fruit.

Angela: Often my eggplants fruit earlier than my mid season tomatoes.

Miss M: I have not perfected this but until I get used to a variety, I tend to pick them as soon as they are an eatable size. If they taste good, I let them get a bit bigger until I get a sense of the maximum size for my growing conditions to harvest still immature fruit. Not very useful advice I know. My other rule of thumb is that they should not have been growing very long. Kind of like zucchini - you wouldn't leave them on the vine for more than a week.

Michelle: You reminded me of another variety I would love to try.

Emily: I tend to be a bit tough on plants when it comes to planting out dates too.

Daphne: It seems most everyone is getting a version of weird weather this year.

Mamaraby: Ichiban is another one that I have heard good things about. I have a genetic mix of long asian types I'm exicted to try next year.

Mac: The bane of the advid gardener: not enough space. I hear ya!

Lisa Anne: Hmm? Did they fall off, or just not grow much?

Northerngardens said...

Wow, very impressive. I thought our egg plant were doing well.

PJ said...

I've only ever grown one form of eggplant, a random one I picked up from the nursery, it fruited all summer, and autumn, and is still growing (though not fruiting) through all winter! Eggplants are awesome, if not completely confusing.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I've heard of people ovewintering before. Sounds like an interesting project.