|Eggplant (Solanum melongena)|
Eggplant is a perannual in its native subtropical environment but is raised as an annual in temperate gardens. It comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors but those typically grown in an American garden produce fruit that are purple, white or variegated, and 6inches or smaller in length and 4 inches or smaller in width. There is also a long skinny variety, referred to as Japanese Eggplant, that is growing in popularity as well. An eggplant is a beautiful addition to your garden or a flower bed with 1-2 inch showy flowers, and soft velvety leaves that often have purplish veins, not to mention the glossy eye catching fruit. Plants grow to about 2 feet tall and can make a good center piece to a large potted arrangement or an eatable landscaping plan.
Either start it indoors 8-10 weeks prior to your average last killing frost or purchase it from a local garden center. Plant eggplant in well drained soil and a sunny location. Spacing plants 18-24 inches apart. Mature fruit can be heavy and cause the plant to lean so supporting it with stake or wire cage is helpful. The fruit will be glossy when ready to harvest and should be cut from the plant leaving about 1 inch of stem attached to the fruit.
Note: There is some mention of the possibility of allergies (though not scientifically documented) relating to eggplant, especially for those who are already susceptible to allergies.
Happy Gardening! :)