Growing eggplants at home
By Ama H. Vanniarachchy
A chef’s friend and a gardener’s delight!
Eggplant or brinjal is one of the most favourite and popular dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine. It is also a popular and much-loved dish in Western and other Asian cuisines. Eggplants can be made into a delicious breakfast, a side dish for lunch, and a light dinner. It can be grilled, fried, stuffed, baked, roasted, sautéed, or stir-fried. As it can be cooked in many ways, it is a chef’s friend.
Although Eggplant is cooked and eaten, it is actually a fruit. It is a berry and it belongs to the family of tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Concerning the many ways, it can be cooked and eaten; it is not a waste to keep some extras in-store; that will save your time from running to the market several times a week. So, why not plant some eggplants in your home garden?
It is a beautiful plant that bears dainty flowers and glossy, fat fruits. So, in that sense, it is a gardener’s delight. Investing some time and energy to grow this beautiful and useful fruit at your own house is not a waste. It is a wise decision. You have a plant, with attractive flowers, glossy, bright-coloured fruits, and a delicious fruit that you can cook for any meal. If not in a container, you can also grow it in a flower bed in your garden. The mauve, light purple flowers, and glossy fruit will of course add beauty to your garden.
Grow it in containers
Eggplants can be grown from seeds. As there is no fuss in maintaining them, it is easy to grow in containers. There is a variety of eggplants, so choose the right one that fits your taste.
Few varieties of Eggplants:
Fairy tale, Hansel, Gretel, Rosa Bianca, Little Fingers, Orient Express, Nubia, Dancer, and Black Nadia, etc...
The advantage of growing it in containers is that you can keep it close to your kitchen and also you can move the container to have the best view when it has flowers and fruits.
How to grow them?
First plan where you want to place your plant. If you already have a kitchen garden you can keep it there. Choose a place with the hot sun as this plant thrives under the sun.
Then choose the container. It is advised to plant one eggplant per container. Depending on the number of fruits you want, you can decide how many plants to grow and on the space you have, choose the pot. Professional gardeners say that you should choose a large pot with a 5-gallon (18L) capacity. Growing eggplant in containers requires 12 to 14 inches (31-35 cm) of space per plant
If you have homemade compost you can use them, mixing it with rich soil. If not, shop for high-quality potting soil.
Fill the container with the potting soil while mixing it with compost. You will have to add compost or fertilizer every few weeks, and when the plants start to bloom.
As these plants prefer warm and hot, do not overwater. But the soil must be moisturized. To maintain the moisture of the soil while keeping it warm, mulch the soil with coir. As the plants start to grow, install a potato cage as a support for the growing plants.
Depending on the variety you chose, you will see the results. Some will be white, dark purple that is almost black, bright purple, light purple mixed with white, long and thin, fat and round, or pear-shaped.
Pluck them when the fruit is glossy and when you feel softness when you squeeze it. It is advised to pick it when it is fully ripe.
How to eat them?
Your harvest is the result of your hard work. It is something you can be proud of. The glossy purplish delights are fresh from the garden and they are organic. There are many ways of cooking them. But to experience the full flavour of your fresh organic Eggplants, simply roast them. Cut them into small squares without removing the skin. Pour some olive oil on them, and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Place the seasoned eggplant squares on a baking pan and roast them until they are brown and soft.
Now, enjoy your freshly baked, organic eggplant roast.