Archive for the 'Eggplant' Category

Fall Eggplants and Pears

Last weekend, I harvested about 130 pears from our Comice pear tree. They are now in our extra refrigerator chilling for a month before I will take them out to fully ripen at room temperature. Our Comice pear tree is looking much healthier today than it did in past years. Once diffence is that I have been watering it 6 days a week. This tree seems to require lots of water, at least in our dry summer climate. In past years, I watered it 2-3 days a week, and the tree typically lost most of its leaves by September. This year, it has dropped many leaves already, but it still has most of its leaves now.

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I am finally harvesting egggplants from our garden. I didn’t pick the first eggplants until late August, and it wasn’t until early September that I harvested several eggplants at once. Eggplants seem to thrive in warm weather. We have had relatively warm weather since early August, and our eggplants have been doing reasonably well since then.

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September 30 2013 | Eggplant and Pears | No Comments »

Late Summer Vegetables

Even as summer begins to wind down, the vegetables growing in our 4 raised beds are still producing an over-abundance of vegetables. In fact, I have spent most of the weekends in the past month canning tomatoes and peaches. I just finished another batch of tomato sauce today, and the tomatoes keep on coming. We have harvested close to 300 tomatoes from the plants shown in this picture.

And we have barely begun to harvest the San Marzano tomatoes that are growing in another raised bed (see the next picture below). These tomatoes got off to a late start, because we planted them by seed at home and then set them outside in mid-May. We decided to grow San Marzano tomatoes after we heard Anne Burrell rave about them on the Food Network. We couldn’t find them as transplants, so we bought a seed packet.

We have also had a lot of luck with eggplants this year. We are growing the lavender touch, black beauty, and New York varieties that we purchased as transplants from a nursery. We are also growing the Japanese long variety, which we started by seed indoors. I was curious to see if we could get our own seedlings to grow as well as the eggplant transplants that are sold in nurseries. I suspect that most vegetable transplants sold in nurseries are sown in the winter and grown in a greenhouse, giving them a big head start on the growing season.

Our Japanese long eggplants are much smaller than the other varieties we have, but they are growing surprisingly well despite the fact that they were much smaller than the other varieties when we set them outside into the ground. Here is a picture that I took yesterday of our New York eggplant, which has a few big fat eggplants that look very similar to black beauty.

We are also growing several varieties of peppers this year. We have jalapeno, habanero, serrano, Thai, de-arbol, and various types of bell peppers. In general, the hot peppers are growing better than the bell peppers. This is the fourth year in a row I have planted bell peppers. The plants are not vigorous growers, at least in our garden. Each plant only produces a few bell peppers, and the fruit is usually small.

The hot peppers are growing better. We planted all of our peppers as transplants that we bought from a nursery, except the habanero peppers. We started those by seed ourselves indoors in the spring along with the eggplants and San Marzano tomatoes. I was skeptical that we would have any success trying to grow peppers by seed ourselves, but we decided to give it a try as an experiment. After a slow start, our habanero peppers started growing very well at the start of summer, and they are now producing several small peppers. I am amazed they have grown as well as they have.

Below are pictures of our habanero, serrano and de-arbol peppers, respectively. The de-arbol pepper is a very attractive ornamental plant, having several red chilis surrounding its green leaves. In fact, our plants have so many hot peppers that we are not sure what to do with them. I am considering trying to dry them, which might be one of my next projects.

September 12 2010 | Eggplant and Peppers and Tomatoes | No Comments »

Vegetable Garden Harvest

Yesterday, I picked a few dozen of our ripe tomatoes. We are growing 4 varieties of tomatoes this year: one Early Girl, one Big Beef, one Champion, and about a dozen San Marzano tomatoes. The last two years we had a substantial harvest of tomatoes from just one Early Girl tomato plant and one Big Beef tomato plant. This year is the first time we have grown Champion and San Marzano. Most of the tomatoes I picked yesterday were from our Early girl and Big Beef plants.

Here is picture of some of our early girl tomatoes on the vine.

We still have about a few hundred more green tomatoes on the vines, not including the San Marzano tomatoes which just started blooming and fruiting. This is a photo of yesterday’s harvest, including tomatoes, onions, and a carrot.

Today, I made a spicy tomato sauce with the carrot, the onions, the tomatoes, and celery from a grocery store. Then, I bottled the sauce and processed it in our pressure cooker for about 45 minutes. Vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes are considered low acid. Therefore, they need to be processed at a higher temperature than the boiling point of water (212 degrees F) if they are going to be stored at room temperature for an extended period. A pressure cooker is designed to raise its internal temperature up to about 240 degrees.

Our eggplants are finally producing their first eggplant fruits. We are growing about a dozen eggplants this year from seeds and transplants we bought from a local nursery. I set out the transplants in late April and May, but they really didn’t start growing and blooming until about early June when the warmer summer weather began. We are growing the Japanese long, lavender touch, New York, and black beauty varieties of eggplants. This is a photo of one of our lavender touch eggplants. I really like this variety, because the color of the fruit is so beautiful and the flesh is creamier and moister than some of the darker varieties.

We are also growing cucumbers in our vegetable garden this year. We planted a variety called Straight Eight cucumbers by seed. I had planted some of the cucumber seeds indoors in March, but when I transplanted those seedlings outside in April they died even though we didn’t have any freezing weather. I think they died because I didn’t harden them off to the outdoor sun exposure and temperatures.

After that experience, I planted the remaining cucumber seeds directly in one of our raised beds in late April. Most of those seeds sprouted within about a week and grew quickly. Now we have about 20 medium and small cucumbers (4″-8″) from about 20 plants. This is a photo of few of them.

Last weekend, I tried pickling one of our cucumbers in a simple brine solution of water, salt, sugar, and dill spice. I cooked the cucumber slices in the brine for about 15 minutes. They tasted as good as the dill pickles that are bottled and sold commercially. Next weekend, I am planning on pickling and canning the rest of our cucumbers.

August 01 2010 | Cucumbers and Eggplant and Tomatoes | 3 Comments »

Neon Eggplant

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This photograph shows our neon eggplant with a large purple fruit hanging on it. We are also growing millionaire and nadia eggplants. This is the second year we have grown eggplants in our vegetable garden, and I have been pleased with the harvest both years. Our eggplants are slow growers early in the season and don’t produce fruit until later than many of our other garden vegetables. But by August, when the summer heat really kicks in, our eggplants started growing faster and producing a decent amount of fruits.

Last weekend, my partner and I made Wolfgang Puck’s vegetable gratin recipe using our home grown tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, thyme leaves, and onions. The rest of the ingredients we used in the recipe were store bought, including the mushrooms we added to the recipe. Even with the two of us working together, it took nearly three hours to make it. It takes a long time to fry all that zucchini and eggplant.

But the end product was absolutely delicious! This vegetable gratin recipe is one of my favorites. We have made this recipe several times in the past, and we both think that this time it tasted better than ever. I attribute that flavor in part to using mostly home grown produce. The eggplants we used were so fresh, because I picked them that day, and the neon eggplants had a nice creamy white interior. I picked the zucchinis only a few days before. And all of our home grown eggplants and zucchinis had very few of the scratches, blemishes, and wrinkled spots I often see on commercial produce.

August 30 2009 | Eggplant | No Comments »

Nadia Eggplant

This photograph is a picture of a Nadia black eggplant growing in our vegetable garden. It is finally producing eggplants, and the first one is almost ready to pick. I like these long narrow eggplant fruits, because they are easier to slice than the fat ones.

I planted this eggplant back in early July as a small transplant from a local nursery. This season is the first time that I have grown eggplant. So far, I am pleased at how easy they have been to grow. Although our eggplants have grown slowly for an annual, they are maintaining growth even now in October as the days shorten and the nighttime low temperatures cool off. The leaves of my tomato and zucchini plants are full of mildew right now, but the leaves of the eggplants are mildew free. And our eggplants are continuing to bloom and generate more fruit.

Last month, I harvested a few eggplant fruits from our other eggplants. The fruits had a fresh smell and a nice firmness to them that I have rarely seen in eggplants. They were also free of bruises and dents. We used them with our home grown zucchinis and tomatoes to make a tasty vegetable gratin.

October 11 2008 | Eggplant | No Comments »

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