Connecticut Garden Journal: Eggplants From Garden To Plate | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Eggplants From Garden To Plate

Apr 25, 2019

One of the food highlights growing up in Waterbury was my mom's eggplant parmesan. The combination of gooey mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and breaded and fried eggplant slices was to die for. It still is, and I love cooking it myself now.

Although known as an Italian specialty, eggplant actually hales from India. There's a wide variety of eggplant colors and shapes beyond the teardrop shaped, purple types.

Eggplants require long, warm days and high fertility to produce well. If we have a cool, cloudy summer, you might get large plants but few ripening eggplants. Newer varieties are more adapted to the weather and the plants are downright beautiful in the landscape.

To ensure success, try growing the long, thin, or small-fruited varieties such as Fairy Tale and Thai Green. I find they mature faster and produce more fruits than the large, teardrop-shaped varieties. Grow on sandy loam soil and amend it well with compost.

For more heat, cover the garden bed with dark plastic mulch a few weeks before planting. Plant the end of May into the plastic mulch, covering plants during chilly nights. Side dress with an organic fertilizer once every three weeks and keep plants well watered. Or grow eggplants in containers. Dark colored containers accumulate heat, which eggplants love. Keep the plants well fertilized and watered.

To harvest, press the skin of full-sized fruits. If it bounces back, they’re ready to eat. If your finger leaves an indent, they’re over mature and probably bitter. Soak fruits in water for 15 minutes before cooking and remove skins to reduce bitterness