When I was growing up, eggplant was pretty close to the top of my “veg I don’t like” list. In my 20's, however, I discovered that my issue wasn’t with the eggplant but the preparation - eggplant parmigiana - which was essentially the only way my mom ever prepared it.
The lightbulb moment came when I was at a Thai restaurant and one of the dishes was a curry that contained big pieces of Asian eggplant. No one was more surprised than I when that turned out to be my favourite part of the meal.
|The two small ones (lower middle) are Slim Jim, the rest are Ping Tung|
I decided right off the bat that I was going to stay away from the large black eggplants that are typically found on supermarket shelves. I much prefer the Asian types which have far few seeds and whose skin is so tender that I don’t even bother peeling them.
Ping Tung Eggplant
Slim Jim Eggplant
|Eggplant seedlings - 6-7 weeks|
|Wilted leaves with rolled edges - one possible symptom|
of Verticillium wilt
Other than the verticillium wilt scare, the plants did relatively well, although I did find that they were a bit slow going, with the first harvests not being until late August, early September. As for varieties, I loved the Ping Tung which is exactly what I think an eggplant should be – slender, tender skin, very few seeds and no bitterness.
The Slim Jim was another story – I found it to be very seedy and the eggplants took longer to mature, even though they were much smaller then Ping Tung.
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
I’m rather happy with my first attempt at growing eggplant and plan to do much better this coming season.
Since I found the plants grew rather slowly, I've decided to sow them earlier this year - I've slated them into the calendar for the end of February. Earlier sowing is not always an effective strategy for obtaining larger plants that produce sooner, but I’m a big fan of trying things out for myself before dismissing them out of hand.
As for varieties, Ping Tung is here to stay, but Slim Jim is out. I've chosen another Asian variety to replace it with - Thai Long Green - which looks like a green version of the Ping Tung. I also had a very pretty Italian eggplant in my online cart but somewhere along the line it missed the checkout. Oh well - it's too late now, so that one will have to wait for next year.