Friday, October 18, 2013

Of Eggplant and Men

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market. It is the third week of October and this gives you a good month or so before you are at risk of frost. As noted in prior posts I cannot stress enough how important it is to get those fall plants in and started so when the frost hits they are more liable to survive. But of course continuing the month’s topic, today I will be discussing the trials and tribulations of this year’s eggplant crop. As noted in earlier articles I tried a number of unusual varieties as well as some heritage types and a few recurring favorites from last year.

Early Black Egg
Japanese Long
Louisiana Long Green
Striped Ntula
Striped Togo
Turkish-Italian Orange
White Ntula

That’s not a long list so the favorites of course will be shorter than the tomato and pepper entries. After all while I do easily lay hands on the weird varieties honestly my personal demand for eggplant and the market’s demand is limited so the list reflects this. Admittedly all eggplant seem to have a common problem in that they always had fire ant issues for some reason and the fire ants were very persistent. The damage caused by the ants warranted chemical controls and additional fertilizer and watering. I might add that in prior year’s trials this problem occurred even when the specimen plants were planted in the ground.

Still my personal favorite as far as eggplant go, they take a while to produce but once they start only frost stops them.
Striped Togo Solanum aethiopicum

Striped Togo is a yearly favorite, the tall columnar shaped plants produce fruits in two’s or threes that are about 2” long and oval shaped. The plants responded aggressively to water soluble fertilizer (black magic mix) and even as of this writing are still trying to produce fruit. Togo has been a reliable producer for three recurring years in the test gardens and will continue to repeat as such. I might add that togo fruit are generally non-bitter unless grown and picked beyond their ripe status so there are no harvester error issues.

Typically when they are this color you don't eat them as they are supposed to be eaten green but heck taking one for the team!
Nyakati Solanum aethiopicum

Nyakati or Mock Tomato, is from the Ethiopian regions, and despite what images of it from the seed supplier and other images online seem to indicate only produced tiny pea-sized fruits with barely any eggplant flesh to them. Fortunately it produced quite a few little fruits so the individual size balanced out. Even so the red fruits were moderately bitter but nothing a little ketchup could not fix. Supposedly young leaves are edible but I never bothered to test it. It’s a nice eggplant but may be best grown as an odd ornamental I think. Expect it next year from saved seed.

The fruit as it turns out aren't a pure white like cloud 8 eggplant but rather a peach-pearl sort of white.
White Ntula Solanum aethiopicum

This African variety was one of three bought at the same time. As far as growth is concerned by the end of summer it produced a plant that was about three feet tall and produced a single large white fruit. The sole fruit is still on the plant for the purposes of maturing and later on harvesting seed. I would grow it again for its respectable growing habit albeit in greater numbers to compensate for the erratic seed germination. I should note that one of the common names of White Ntula is bitter Eggplant, I’ve not personally verified this for the noted reasons above but when I do it’ll be up here first.

A Louisiana long green that survived the Kiwano that ate HP bed B.

As a special mentions to this eggplant discussion I have to note the two eggplant varieties that will get a redo next year. Lousiana long green and Early black egg were both smothered by the Kiwano vine from the depths of hell. But sales of these varieties were good enough to warrant a return of both. More so, in the bad news department Turkish-Italian Orange has yet to live up to its suggested productivity or noted capacity. TIO won’t be sold next year but may be grown as a novelty to see what could be done about the poor productivity. This brings to a close the discussion of eggplant, next week we will return to the usual format when we cover the basil’s grown in the garden this year so expect photographs and such.

Oh yes the sustainability squadron in full effect at last week's market!
To change topic, it is that time in the article when I post what is coming to market tomorrow. The Fayetteville City/Farmer’s Market occurs on Saturdays from 9:00 am through 1:00pm at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum grounds at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. More so, there is TONS of parking nearby and you can find a wide variety of stuff at the market ranging from essential oils and crafts to the freshest produce and of course cold season plants. So come on by and check us out, below is the plant list for Saturday October the 19th 2013.

6x Spineless Prickly Pear

House Plants:
2x Silver Aloe

Salad & Fixings:
(More Black Seeded Simpson next week)

Cole Crops:
6x Georgia Collards
6x Morris Heading Cabbage-Collards
4x Savoy Cabbage
2x Mustard-Spinach ‘Senposai’
5x Dinosaur Kale
5x Napa Cabbage

Available Soon:
2x Blushing Philodendron
?x Japanese Red Giant Mustard

This wraps up the third entry for October and as you may realize both Daylight Savings and Halloween are right around the corner. I might add Food Day is on the 24th and there’s all kinds of cool stuff going down on the 24th through the following weekend. If you’ve got questions about where and what to plant feel free to contact me through this blog or in person at the market. As always folks keep ‘em growing!

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