eggplant


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Eggplant breeding line 1 F4 (top row is part of breeding line 3)

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Eggplant breeding line 3 F3

The photo above shows the harvest of eggplants from the open ground bed in the vegetable garden. The plants of breeding line 1 is grown out of seeds from 2012 harvested in the greenhouse. Therefore, this line is a generation ahead of processing line 3, which is grown out of seeds grown in the open ground in 2009. Since 2009, I harvested lots of eggplants in the open ground, but there has been no obvious progress in my plant breeding, no new generations. Until last year that is, when I put some plants of breeding line 1 in the greenhouse, and got a new generation, but without knowing anything about their outdoor values. I have spent the years since 2009 to determine which envelopes of the 2009 seed harvest do most frequently provide better plants. It is valuable, although it does not produce new generations, because it allows me to concentrate on growing more individuals from the best seed envelopes.

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Seeds from a single outdoor grown eggplant fruit

Never have I harvested so many eggplant seeds. Almost all mature eggplants contained seeds, and some of them contained more seeds than I’ll be able to grow before they get too old. The seeds appears to be of prime quality. An eggplant seed celebration!

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Envelopes with eggplant seeds from open ground

This many seeds promise a lot of labour to find the best seed envelopes to draw future generations from. Which of them will produce the most reliable plants for growing outdoor in my kitchengarden?

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The eggplant bed shortly after transplanting in June

The newly transplanted eggplant bed looked neat Later weed germinated in this fertile, well-watered bed, mostly dandelions, kale and sonchus, all edible, delicious and providing a long lasting harvest. I still harvest kale and dandelion. Easy and gentle multicropping.

Since I harvested way too many seeds for my own use, I will share with interested gardeners.
In Denmark through the danish seed savers: Frøsamlerne
Other nationalities please contact me either by leaving a comment, or PM me if you know me in some of the social networks like HomegrownGoodness or facebook.

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Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

Again this year, I had to resort to the eggplant seeds from 2009. I wait for a hot summer, so I again can harvest mature seeds. This year we ate the whole harvest. I harvested on September 30, and the following week we had the luxury of our own tender eggplants.

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Rima F3 No.3

The seed envelope from 2009 where I wrote “Rima F3 No.3” is a treasure. It is with no doubt my best eggplant seed envelope. This year more than half of the plants fruited in the open ground (seedlings was sown indoor before transplant, as the other years) despite a cool summer. However, in this cold summer I can’t imagine they can set seeds. Instead we have eaten them all, except one, which revealed some seeds that might mature, as I cut it open in the kitchen.

In the greenhouse, I have grown their cousins, Rima F3 No.1. (motherplants were siblings). I did so to highly increase my chances to harvest ripe seeds. Since this is the third year in open ground without harvest of mature seeds from my eggplants, I’m testing a new strategy. Should I grow my seedlings in the greenhouse, save seeds from each fruit separately and numbered? Then I can make comparative cultivation out in the kitchen garden, and this way recognize the best seed envelope for next generation (to be grown in the greenhouse…). It will not be quite as dogmatic plant breeding, but maybe it will speed up the process? I will sow my Rima F4 No.1. seeds next year, to learn if this strategy works for me. I would of course prefer to harvest my seeds from plants in the kitchen garden. Hopefully I come to that in the future.

PS. My garden tiles measures 40x40cm.


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Eggplants for seed

Another step in my attempt to breed an northern outdoor eggplant

Today was the day. I think eggplants development in the garden has come to a halt now that autumn is cooling the garden down. I took the scissors, and cut all the plants off the root. I had plants scattered across the bed, but could now dig the labels out of the ground by each plant, and sort according to their parents in the last generation. It gives me an idea of​the value of parental plants in breeding – it is what Carol Deppe call “Power Breeding”.
To get an idea of What it would be without power breeding, imagine what it would look like if I had simply mixed the plants as they stood in the garden, without sorting according to parental plants.

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Rima F3 No.1

Mother plant to Rima F3 No.1 in its time hurried into setting a tiny eggplant, which was so early that the mature seeds rotted and dried up, while the other plants were still struggling to set fruits. This year, the plant to the right is especially interesting because it has set 4 big beautiful fruits in the open ground. My concrete tile measures 40x40cm for comparison (40 cm = 15.7 in).

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Rima F3 No.2, and in the box the fruits from the best plant of Rima F3 No.1

Mother plant to Rima F3 No.2 is certainly not to rely on. One plant put a small eggplant, another nothing at all! No need to dig into the seed bag a second time, practising Power Breeding!

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Rima F3 No.3

Mother plant to Rima F3 No.3 in turn has potential, and it is hereditary! All the plants set fruit, almost all up in the attractive size. 3 out of 7 plants set the abundant fruits in big size!
A favourite seed bag found. Hope I get seeds out of just some of the fruits.

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Rima F3 “Largest fruit in the F2 generation”

This I grew a lot of last year as the mother plant had such a great fruit. Last year, it produced no fruits, when several of the others produced some fruits, however, no seeds. For this reason it is not my favourite line (Power Breeding again), but since I do not want to risk losing potential seed, I still saved the biggest fruits for ripening the seeds – imagine if it were the only ones who make seeds this year!

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To the chef au cuisine 🙂

Eventually there were all those lovely, shiny aubergines with no chance to mature seeds. They will be cooked in the kitchen and enjoyed in meals the next days. My dream is that most of my eggplants can go into the kitchen. But as long as the plant breeding work need to be consolidated, I mainly try to save seeds.


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Today’s harvest

Today’s harvest included:

Eggplants/Aubergines. Solanum melongena I harvested some of the late fruits, certainly failing to produce seeds. They are grown in open ground, because I am trying to develop an open-air variety. This summer’s heavy rains made me pessimistic, but now many of the plants stands out there in the rough weather with one, two or more fruits. I wonder if water was a limiting factor in the other years I’ve grown eggplants out in the garden?
Apparently they have thrived with melons in the same bed. The melon plants was growing fine all summer, but the rain have prevented any pollination – no melons this year 😦

Groundcherries. Physalis sp. In the bowl is what I picked up from the ground today. I last cleared the ground two days ago. I find the taste very similar to cape gooseberries. The fruit is somewhat smaller. They are grown outdoors, and gives a good yield, in contrast to the low yield of cape gooseberries in my climate. The fruit should not be picked from the plant, but picked up when they fall to the ground. They are protected by the delicate husk, so they don’t get bruised or dirty.
This year I got a much better yield than last year. Primarily I think, because they have a more fertile soil. I grow two cultivars, one without a name, and one called ‘Goldie’. There is no big difference, they taste the same, but ‘Goldie’ is probably a bit bigger in growth and fruit.
Some fruits are ready to eat picked from the ground, others have to further mature for a few days. The berry turn yellow when the delicate aroma and sweetness emerges.

Sweet pepper. Capsicum annuum Purple bell peppers (No cultivar name) and red-orange-yellow ’Alma Paprika’ FS584 apple pepper, both from outdoors. ’Alma Paprika’ FS584 is known to be early, and it has lived up to my high expectations. The plant is densely packed with fruit, and even though I’ve picked these 4, it still seems overloaded with fruits 🙂 The purple bell pepper is the big surprise. I thought it was a greenhouse variety, but it has fared well in open ground, and set four purple bell peppers.

Tomatillo. Physalis ixocarpa We have been pleased with the tomatillos. They do not taste of much, or in any way significant, apart from slightly acid. But in sauce and casseroles gives a wonderful taste to the other ingredients. Could it be the umami taste? They go well with most ingredients in the kitchen, are easy to grow, and gives a good yield. It might be clever to tie them up a bit. But when the fruit comes with its own wrapper, you can safe time and just let it ramble along the ground. This is one of the vegetables you can eat daily.


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Eggplant Solanum melongena

Today the first eggplant flower showed colour. This year is a repeat of last year, where I didn’t get any seeds – it was too cold. I’ve just mixed the seeds a bit different, not so many of the line that didn’t set fruit last year, and more of those that did. In this way last years disaster get used to grow better eggplants in future. (If I can get seeds this year)


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The eggplants of reasonable size

Autumn has come, and I don’t think eggplants will develop any further out in the garden. Today I harvested all the plants. Harvest is small, but exceeds my expectations in June, as the small eggplants was transplanted. Honestly, after a cold May, I didn’t expect any eggplants this season.
For comparison I also transplanted two known varieties, Apple Green and Ping Tung Long. Of the four plants of these two varieties, only one Apple Green set an eggplant, as seen in the picture on top.

I’ve kept my records:
15 plants after the largest eggplant last year. No fruit 😦 (It was my favourite)
3 plants after the thick and heavy eggplant gave a single plant with a fair size eggplant.
2 plants after the very small, and very early eggplant gave two plants with a fair size eggplant each 🙂
2 plants after a moderate sized eggplant. No fruit – but should I still grow more of it next year?
2 plants after another moderate sized eggplant. No fruit – but should I also grow more of this next year?

Now the eggplant fruits ripens off inside until November or December. If they contain seeds, I can then extract them for drying.

I have some questions to consider during the winter:
Shall I exclusively follow the line of the very tiny and early eggplant from last year? Should I cross an offspring of the largest eggplant from last year into the line?
How can two plants after such a small eggplant both set fruits about the same size as the offspring of a much larger and heavier eggplant? Will I get the same result, if I grow out 10 plants of each?

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Mini eggplants

I had a bonus – mini eggplants. They don’t have a chance to ripen, but are still useful in the kitchen.

Downside is, that most plants had no fruits at all! It can seem a bit pointless to grow eggplants that doesn’t produce any eggplants, but it is necessary if I am to select for hardiness. If I reach to the point where my line is hardy, I’ll be able to both select and eat the not so perfect results. I hope to get there in a few years.


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UPDATE 15 October 2010
There was no seeds in any of the three fruits. It still brings my breeding project ahead, as I have learned which seed bags contain the best seeds for a cold summer. Hopefully this will bring me closer to the easy to grow eggplant I hope to find.

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Eggplant (Solanum melongena) in open ground, ready for seed harvest

Today I noticed, that the first set eggplant in open ground was dry and wrinkled. Half dehydrated, half rotten, and it has happened in a few days. Luckily this means the seeds are mature and ready for harvest. Honestly, the plant is small, as the fruit was also small, but extremely early to be ready for picking for the kitchen.

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Same fruit 17 juli

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Same fruit 10 juli

This F2 generation has a great variability. I would definitely like to grow larger aubergines in my garden. Fortunately there are many plants with larger fruits, although not as early. Before I have created a stabile variety I must expect selecting for the best over a decade. Many a lousy eggplant can be expected to show up in my garden under those years. But the process is exciting, making it all worthwhile.

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This size eggplants is what I dream about. I succeeded with this plant, but can I harvest mature seeds from it? Can I then stabilize the type, harvesting large eggplant from open ground year after year?

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