Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eggplant Selection

The only plant I am growing in the greenhouse that did not meet my criteria of small plant large fruit is the eggplant, or aubergine.

I have never had real success with eggplant in my soil garden, and I thought that if I was going to try one in the greenhouse that I would make it well worth the effort. I looked for a plant with VERY large fruit. My garden book advises that you should cut the growing tip when the plant is a foot tall, and only allow five fruit to develop. I thought: why worry about the size if you are going to cut it off at a foot?

My selection was Florida Highbush, and the description follows:

This is an old variety bred in Florida in the 1940's for use in commercial fields. Named for its large upright plants that keep fruit off the ground, the truly special thing about this variety, however, is its enormous eggplant. Glossy blackish-purple eggplants are oval to oblong in shape and can easily become 10 inches long. Fruit sets throughout a long season and are perfect for grilling, frying, stuffing, baking or any other eggplant use.

I waited until the plant was about a foot tall, and actually was measuring it to cut it, when I thought I would go online and see if there was any additional advise about cutting the plant. In searching Florida Highbush I found that you should not cut this plant back. I am sure glad I checked.

The plant is not like any other eggplant I have grown; a thin tapered central stalk with fruit developing at different levels of the stalk. My plant is in an autopot fighting for light with the tomatoes. It is just now beginning to gain the height advantage over the tomatoes. There is one flower that appears to be about to open, and I guess I will tickle it with the artist brush. I have no idea if eggplant need to be pollinated, but I figure I will not hurt if I do. Better be safe than sorry....

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