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.

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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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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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?

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.

Seeds of turnip (Brassica rapa)

Early december I visited Irkutsk in eastern Siberia. As you may expect, I have brought some seeds back home. I was happily surprised to find an easy accessible and an rich variety of garden seeds in the shops. The turnip seeds I purchased are the former famous ‘Petrovskaja’ and the variety ‘Djetskaja Metja’ (childrens dream), looking to me like ‘Goldball’.

Seeds of pepper (Capsicum annuum)

I hope it’s the earliest varieties I brought home. I’m excited to learn if they are early enough to grow in open ground in my garden. Could it be that just one or two of the peppers or eggplants will be earlier than I seen in other varieties?
Two of the peppers are “housepeppers”, used in Siberia to grow on the window sill. One of those are a F1 hybrid, needing a dehybridizing to be stabilised, if I’m to grow it on in future generations.

Seeds of eggplant (Solanum melongena)

In the shop I didn’t find time to spell my way through all the kyrillic letters. Therefore I had a great laugh, as I later read “Blek Bjuti” on an eggplant seed batch, as I realised it is the wellknown “Black Beauty”. Luckily I also have a white variety, “Vkus Gribov”, translating in to “Taste of Mushroom”. With this name it can hardly be anything but an original russian variety, or at least from one of the neighboring slavic countries.

Second eggplant harvest of the year from greenhouse

Now it’s time to harvest eggplants again. Skorospely with the small oblong fruits have three fruits ready. Rima F1 and Almaz give their first fruit. Rima F1 is the largest fruit, almost supermarket size. A fantastic variety, but a F1 hybrid. I can’t save the seeds and grow the same variety from them next year. I don’t know if I can save live seeds from it at all.

More posts on eggplant

Skorospely Solanum melongena

The first little eggplant in the greenhouse have sized enough to make me wonder if its time to harvest. Since I’m unfamiliar with the many varieties I try, it can be a bit tricky to know when it’s time to harvest. It might be as peppers, where it’s helpfull to harvest first fruits early, to get a larger harvest later.
The russian name Skorospely is most appropriate, as it means “early”. I must remember to harvest seeds from this variety.