HEALTHY=WEALTHY-EGGPLANTS


Eggplant is a great nutrient-dense veggie that delivers.

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Eggplant, aubergine or brinjal is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Eggplants typically have a deep purple hue, while others have longer shapes. Like the tomato, its skin and seeds can be eaten, but, like the potato, it is usually eaten cooked. Eggplant is nutritionally low in macronutrient and micronutrient content, but the capability of the fruit to absorb oils and flavors into its flesh through cooking expands its use in the culinary arts.

Eggplants are categorized as non-starchy vegetables that is counted as one of a few low-caloric, high-fiber foods appropriate for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Eggplant may also be classified as a super food because of the # of nutrients found in a cup of raw eggplant. Did you know that 1cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 5 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Manganese: 10% of the RDI
  • Folate: 5% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI

Eggplants also are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage. Antioxidants prevent many types of chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer. Eggplants are also  rich in anthocyanins, a pigment with antioxidant properties that can protect against cellular damage.  Studies also point to the affects of eggplants to improve heart function and reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it promotes healthy glucose levels, helps with weight loss, it may have anti-cancer fighting properties and it is versatile.

Eggplants can be baked, roasted, grilled or sautéed and enjoyed with a drizzle of olive oil and a quick dash of seasoning. It can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Serving up a pot of eggplant is a sure hit to present at any family dinner table or fellowship.  On Sabbath, I offered eggplant patties with marinara sauce, my sister sauteed her eggplant, and donated some of her harvest of eggplants to some members of the congregation including me. The picture illustrates my sister’s harvest of eggplants and it was simply delicious. 

Eggplant is a rewarding and straightforward fruit to grow for any gardener. Below tips courtesy of Kellogg Gardening demonstrate how to grow eggplant in your back yard starting with your soil composite. Soil composition is important to harvest healthy and tasty eggplants. Eggplant thrives best in well-draining, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter. The pH of your garden soil is also crucial for the successful growth of your fruitful plants. Most varieties of eggplant do their best growing in soil with a pH level of between 5.5 and 6.5. Your local garden center and assist with soil test.

My first eggplant was an Italian eggplant. I started early spring and it resulted in three Italian eggplants. Not bad for a newbie. This season, I had no eggplants. I recycled the same soil with no harvest. There is a high probability that the soil used to harvest this season did not meet the soil composition requirements. This just means, I will be ready for next spring.  One tip to harvesting eggplants-be sure to space each seed 2-3 feet apart in rows. Spacing matters. Eggplants like carrots need space for air to flow freely, which wards of diseases. This technique also gives the plant room to grow and spread to its fullest potential.

Where to Grow Eggplant

Eggplants grow well in almost any garden format where the weather is warm on a regular basis, the soil conditions are ideal, there is adequate moisture and full sun. This makes growing eggplant an ideal choice for your backyard garden or on your patio.

Containers

Eggplant loves the heat and having warm roots, so it is well suited for growing in spacious containers in quality potting soil as long as they are watered regularly.

Raised Beds

Eggplant can also find an ideal growing environment in raised beds where the soil is warmer, and the soil quality can be well regulated with nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Eggplants can also be planted in raised beds earlier in the season than in-ground planting which extends the growing season and productivity for your crop.

In-Ground

Traditional in-ground backyard gardens are also an excellent choice for these elegant fruits to grow. It is vital, however, that the soil is amended with organic material and that the soil drains well. Eggplants do not like soggy conditions. Additionally, in-ground planting may be best suited for climates with a long, warm growing season to get the most out of your eggplant.

Planting from Seed vs. Buying Plants

Eggplant can be successfully grown from seed at home, or they can be readily purchased from your local garden center. You can start eggplant seeds indoors in seed-starting flats, eight weeks before the final frost. Eggplant seeds germinate well at temperatures of 70 to 80°F on average, so place them in a warm and sunny location or utilize a heating mat for best results. Planting your own seeds can provide you more variety in your selection of plants to grow, as you are not limited to the few varieties offered at a garden center. If you do buy your eggplants plants from a nursery, they should only be transplanted outside only after any threat of frost has passed.

Types of eggplants

There are a plethora of varieties to choose from when it comes to planting eggplant. They vary from ornamental to edible and come in a variety of intriguing shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. From more classic types to unique, eye-catching to the long and slim varieties, there is an eggplant for each palette. Some include

  • Italian
  • Black Beauty
  • Patio Baby
  • Black Magic
  • Early Bird
  • Ichiban
  • Black Bell
  • Dusky
  • Casper
  • Listada de Gandia

 

Nutrient Requirements

Eggplants thrive best when amended with phosphorous when fruits start to set. Add bloodmeal to the surrounding soil in the Spring and bone meal in early summer to bolster your crop.

Light Requirements and Temperature

Plant eggplant in a sunny spot in your garden that receives a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. Eggplants thrive best in full sun and moderate heat. They need a lot of energy to produce sufficient fruit. Temperatures that range from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit daily are ideal for eggplant growth. If temperatures dip down lower than 65 degrees consistently, eggplants may be stunted.

Watering and Feeding

Initially, eggplants need to be watered and soaked. It is essential that eggplant plants are consistently watered throughout the time that fruit is developing.

Eggplant can be somewhat drought tolerant, and the fruit is protected from splitting or wilting if left unwatered occasionally. If eggplant is not watered regularly, the plant will be stressed, and its fruits can become very bitter and unpleasant to the taste.

Eggplants are heavy feeders and benefit from soil amendments and fertilizer, but avoid fertilizer that is too nitrogen-rich. They may encourage foliage growth over fruit production.

It is best to feed eggplant plants with a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous like bone meal and blood meal.

Pruning

While it is not essential to prune eggplant plants as they grow, you can achieve more robust results if you do a little bit of selective pruning. Regulate the amount of fruit that you are growing on each plant to no more than six fruits per plant. This practice will produce larger eggplants when harvest time arrives. You can also pinch off new shoots at the base of the stem to encourage a fuller, more robust overall plant.

Late in the season, it is beneficial to pinch off new blossoms that form on the plant. Eggplant needs about 20 to 30 days to ripen fully, so these fresh fruit-bearing blossoms will not have time to develop. Pinching off new blooms will force the plant’s energy back into the plant and encourage the growth of already formed fruits before frost ends this annual’s season of growth.

Overall Care

Overall, eggplant is a self-sufficient plant to grow under the right growing conditions. It's nutritious, it makes a delicious meal, and clearly a wonderful gift for the one you love. It's a great way to kick off your gardening, if you are currently in a warmer climate or getting ready for Spring. if you are getting ready for the Fall and winter weather, sorry, try next Spring.                          #healthwealthy #sharingiscare #eggplant #gardening #startnow

Shalom 

Sis Cheryl

 

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