Eggplant is tropical plant. It is closely related to tomatoes and peppers. Growing eggplant can be difficult when the evenings are cool. While you may love nighttime temperatures in the 50's, eggplant does not.
They like daytime temperatures above 70 degrees, above 75 is even better. When the temperature of the soil drops below 70 or the air drops below 55 degrees the plants become dormant. Fruits will not get larger and the plant will not set new flowers.
With a little assistance, your eggplant can be very happy. All they need is a little extra protection.
We use one gallon jugs of water to help keep them warm at night. Wash and fill empty plastic milk or spring water jugs three-quarters full of water and pop the top on. Place the jugs in between your plants.
During the day, the sun will heat the water in the jugs. At night as the jugs give off the heat, they keep the air around the plants warm. I have never heard of it being "too warm" for eggplant.
Eggplant cultivars that produce smaller fruit are usually better for growing in the Poconos. On average they produce a crop sooner than the type that grow a 4 pound monster. So look for short season (less than 85 days) varieties when shopping for transplants or vegetable seeds.
We have grown Dusky, Purple Blush, Black Beauty and Ichiban eggplant varieties over the last few years.
This year we are growing Dusky as well as Purple Blush and Purple Rain hybrids from Burpee.
This variety is recommended for short season growers. It produces firm, deep purple, 8" fruits in our garden in about 80 days.
The plants are sturdy and did not need staking. They are touted as disease resistant. We found this to be true.
The were very attractive to flea beetles. We had never seen flea beetles in our Pocono garden until the introduction of Dusky Eggplant. As a point in their favor, I do have to say that the plants continued to produce flowers and fruit even during the worst of the beetles.
A little diatomaceous earth and a floating row cover keep the beetles under control now. Although I did notice that they had discovered the Hardied Nectarine at the end of last summer.
Purple Rain Eggplant
This is a hybrid produced exclusively by W. Atlee Burpee and Co. This is an early producer, 66 days according to the seed packet. I find this to be accurate.
The compact plants produce smaller 6", oval fruits that are wine-purple, maybe you would call it burgundy, streaked with white. Pictured at right. The white flesh inside is almost seedless and mild.
Purple Rain slices hold their shape when cooked. We use the sweet slices for grilling. I have not tried it in eggplant parm because the color is so pretty I did not want to cover it with breading.
The plants are small and compact and can be grown in containers. They do not need to be trellised or staked.
They are unusual looking and always a popular seller at the farmers market.
Purple Blush Eggplant
I suppose Purple Blush is a cousin to Purple Rain, as it is also a hybrid exclusive to W. Atlee Burpee and Co.
Purple Blush plants produce oval, 6" long and 4 1/2" wide fruits that have an opalescent skin which is white and blushed with purple or lavender. The photo at the top of the page is a Purple Blush.
The 36" tall plants are very productive but small enough to grow in a container or the tiniest of gardens.
The fruits are exceptionally sweet tasting and ready in just 62-65 days. The look lovely on a kabob or as grilled slices. The contrast, when placed next to a "regular" aubergine eggplant makes for a very interesting plate.
They also sell quickly at local farmers markets. I'm sure this is partially their great looks and partially because they are available before most standard eggplant varieties.
Vegetables, page 1
Vegetables, page 2
Cucumbers - Vegetables page 3
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