Tag Archives: Black Beauty

Eggplant: Third Time Around

eggplant in EarthBoxThis is my third year of growing eggplant. I have my standard veggies I grow every year such as tomatoes and peppers but I also like to try varieties that are new to me. If the first attempt is not successful, I often try again and usually placing the plant in a different area of the garden helps.

The first year, I grew several Black Beauty eggplants in one garden bed by the side of the house. I started the seed indoors under lights early in the year and then planted the transplants outside in May. The plants grew well but the leaves were stippled. Tiny flea beetles had chewed small spots. This did not kill the plants, they still grew well but I got only one purple eggplant. The second year, I grew them in a different garden bed with better soil, more organic matter and more fertilizer. The plants were bigger with more leaves and very little flea beetles. They actually flowered quite a lot but the flowers withered, died, and fell off. No eggplant appeared. Because eggplants are wind-pollinated, the only thing I could think of was that there was not enough of a wind current in that area. The plants were in a bed that was a few feet away from a honeysuckle-covered fence. I even tried to hand pollinate with a brush but the regular maintenance of life made this difficult to do on a regular schedule.eggplant

This year, I am trying again. I started Black Beauty from seed indoors months ago. I actually got very good germination and end up with too many. I selected six robust seedlings and transferred them to my three EarthBoxes in May (EarthBox recommends two per box). An EarthBox is a self-watering container where the prescribed amount of fertilizer and dolomite are mixed in with the soil before planting. The plants do not dry out as quickly as if they were in a regular container because a screen separates the soil from a reservoir below so the roots can take in water if needed. For this experiment, it did not have to be an EarthBox, it could be any self-watering container big enough for eggplants with the proper amount of fertilizer. A self-watering container helps to alleviate the stress that occurs when the water fluctuates too much. Since I have to spend half my life in an office, I can’t always monitor the soil moisture level. Also, I happened to have three EarthBoxes because I used to grow tomatoes in them on the deck.

My theory is that growing the eggplants in an EarthBox with potting soil and the prescribed fertilizer and dolomite will provide the plants the optimum level of nutrients and soil texture so that the plants will not be stressed. Stressed plants attract harmful bugs and insects such as flea beetles.

I put one container on my deck in full sun and two by the other side of the house, also in sun.  They are deliberately placed in areas that get plenty of sun and cross-site ventilation.

eggplant flower budAs of mid-June, there are no or very few flea beetles, the leaves look very healthy, and I can see one flower bud. I know eggplant can be grown easily here in Virginia; I have heard others say they had bumper crops last year. Hoping for the best — gardening is an adventure!

In My Virginian Garden: A July Update

I have not posted in a while partly because the garden is in full swing, I am so busy harvesting, and partly because we have been making changes here at the homestead that necessitate me being outside instead of inside at the computer. We had a few trees thinned and one chopped down entirely which has increased the sunlight, putting a few plants in shock, but great for some other plants that needed extra sun. I am now able to extend my front garden where the old crab apple tree was, which will be a fall project. We also had the deck power washed which traumatized the container plants that had to be put out on the lawn for now, including the tomatoes in the earthboxes, and greatly moved the soil around many plants. So I have spent much time moving, tending, nursing, and healing the garden but in the end I will have more light (always needed for edibles) and more garden beds.

Black Beauty Eggplant Flower

Black Beauty Eggplant Flower

So far, I have had great success with melons, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and the herbs of course. The puzzler of the year are the eggplants, which I grew successfully last year in a different place but this year, no fruit. Lots of flowers, and everything else nearby is flowering and fruiting, but no eggplant. I read that they are self fertile and I should brush the flowers with a paintbrush, which I just started to do, but still nothing. These are Black Beauty eggplants so maybe next year I will try a different type. I have about six plants among basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and squash, with plenty of bees,  and they are the only plants that do not bear fruit.

On the bright side, I am enjoying the Burpee celery plant,’Peppermint Stick’. I would have never grown a celery plant unless Burpee sent it to me but it has turned out to be really easy to grow and very tasty, much more so than what you get in a store. The stalks are more pungent and the leaves are so big they could be used to garnish as well. I am sold, will grow celery from now on!

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in ground

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in ground

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in bowl

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in bowl

Another success is Renee’s Garden’s Gourmet Tuscan Melon plant. These I started from seed and grew in the large Smart Pots so they could get pampered with the richest soil and plenty of water. I have several melons so far. I have not eaten them yet but just having them is a success for me. We have been fortunate to have had quite a lot of rain in the early summer which I think is responsible for so many melons — it certainly has given me a bumper crop of cucumbers.

Renee's Garden's Gourmet Tuscan Melon

Renee’s Garden’s Gourmet Tuscan Melon

Another surprise was the Jericho lettuce, also from Renee’s Garden. It was partly shaded by a tree limb, which we cut down and since the sunlight has increased, these lettuce plants have been growing and doing well. Lettuce in July is a rare treat, will harvest these soon!

For fun, I planted Proven Winners’ Superbells calibrachoa ‘Holy Moly’, which is a flowering annual, in a large container with Burpee’s ‘Sweet Savour’ pepper. I really like the combination: Holy Moly lends itself to yellows, red and oranges but also plays off blue because it can been seen as an orange color (at first I could not decide if the container should be red, green, or blue). In early summer, the Sweet Savour peppers were yellow, but now at the end of July, the peppers have turned red and orange. They are small, perfect for a container, and although look like hot peppers are actually sweet.

Close Up of Proven Winners' Holy Moly

Close Up of Proven Winners’ Holy Moly

Burpee's Sweet Savour peppers in late July

Burpee’s Sweet Savour peppers in late July