Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
When you say eggplant to many the first thought is of a large purple vegetable that does not look like an egg. There are lots of new eggplants today on Southern Gardening.
The big Italian eggplants are great for eggplant parmesan or lasagna. But there is a great variety of other shapes, size, and colors available. ‘Applegreen’ and ‘White Beauty’ are small, 2 to 3 inch round fruit.
Asian types of eggplant have long and thin fruits and come in a variety of shades of lavender and pinks. A miniature variety called ‘Fairy Tale’ produces 3 to four inch fruit. Twelve plants have produced hundreds of fruit in my garden this year.
There are also eggplant varieties that are perfect for growing in containers. ‘Turkish Italian Orange’ has orange and green striped round fruit. ‘Kermit’ is a green fruited variety with a compact and bushy growth habit.
Eggplant is a warm weather plant and thrives in the heat of the summer. You will need to water daily and use a good garden fertilizer like a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 slow release.
Eggplant will have some insect pests. Row covers are a spun bound fabric that is placed over the row. It acts as a barrier and is very effective in keeping flea beetle and other insect at bay. Heavy infestations should be controlled with a labeled insecticide. Contact your local Extension office for control recommendations
If you don’t already grow eggplant, visit your local farmers market and see which varieties local growers have to offer.
So whether you prefer your eggplant big and purple or smaller and more colorful eggplant is a good choice to enjoy more from your garden.
I am horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.