In the Garden > Herbs, Fruit and Vegetables
Most people would be familiar with the large, purple-black eggplant or aubergine (Solanum melongena) which is used to make delicious recipes like ratatouille and baba ganoush. If you shop around you'll also be able to find white skinned or striped varieties, lady's fingers and the tiny pea eggplant, which is used in Asian cooking. The good news is that there are new red varieties of eggplant available, which have a better flavour than the common purple ones because they are not as acidic. They can be cut in half and put on the barbecue, or sliced thinly, fried and added to platters of antipasto.
Eggplants require a position in full sun and a long, warm growing season. In warm, frost-free zones (for example the tropical and subtropical parts of the Northern Territory and coastal areas of north Queensland) they can be grown all year round. In temperate climates (coastal and near coastal districts of southern Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia) seed can be planted from August to December. In cool to cold climates (southern Australia, mountain and frost-prone inland districts), delay planting until September and make last plantings by the end of November.
Eggplants are in the same family as tomatoes and capsicums, and need similar care. Incorporate plenty of organic matter (e.g. compost and manure) into the soil at planting time. Mulch and keep well watered. Feed through the growing season with a complete fertiliser. Eggplants are susceptible to fruit fly attack and a control program should be put in place in areas where the pest is found.
Red eggplant seeds under the name 'Redskins' are available in the Erica Vale range. You can buy them at major hardware stores and nurseries for $2.95. (Tip: unless you live in a tropical area don't buy seeds until spring.)
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