Mad About Berries

Emerald Delights: The Comprehensive Guide to Green Eggplants

Eggplants, known by many names – aubergines, brinjals, or even guinea squash – have become a staple in many global cuisines. Yet, while many of us are familiar with the classic deep-purple variety, there's a vibrant, verdant version that's worth exploring: the green eggplant.

Let's embark on a delightful journey into the world of green eggplants, from their identity to their cultivation, nutritional value, and more.

Published: September 19, 2023.

green eggplant 1

What are Green Eggplants?

Green eggplants, though less common than their purple counterparts, are a unique variety of the Solanum melongena species.

They range in shade from light jade to a rich forest green and can vary in size from small and round to elongated or bell-shaped.

The flavor of green eggplants is similar to the classic purple variety, though some find it slightly milder and less bitter.

Green Eggplant Varieties

Green eggplants, while less common than their purple counterparts, come in several delicious and unique varieties. These green varieties are often praised for their slightly different flavors and textures, which some people find to be less bitter and more tender than typical purple eggplants.

Here are some of the most common varieties of green eggplants:

Thai Green

  • Description: These are small, round to oval eggplants that are commonly used in Thai cuisine. They have a bright green skin and a somewhat sweet flavor.
  • Usage: Ideal for stir-fries, curries, and other Thai dishes.

Green Goddess

  • Description: This is a larger variety, resembling the shape and size of the typical bell pepper. It has smooth, glossy skin and a mild flavor.
  • Usage: Suitable for grilling, stuffing, and baking.

Louisiana Long Green

  • Description: As the name suggests, this variety is elongated and slender. It's a heirloom variety with a mild, almost asparagus-like flavor.
  • Usage: Great for sautéing and stir-frying due to its tender flesh.

Kermit or Green Apple

  • Description: These are small, round eggplants, roughly the size of a golf ball or a little larger. They have a mild flavor and smooth texture.
  • Usage: Popular in Asian dishes, especially for curries, and can also be pickled.

Florida High Bush

  • Description: This is a heat-tolerant variety that's perfect for warmer climates. It produces large, bell-shaped green fruits.
  • Usage: Versatile; can be used in any dish that calls for larger eggplant varieties.

Falguni

  • Description: An Indian variety that's elongated and pale green. It's known for its sweet and tender flesh.
  • Usage: Perfect for Indian dishes, including curries and bhartas.

When choosing a green eggplant variety to grow, it's essential to consider your climate and intended culinary use.

Additionally, just like their purple counterparts, green eggplants are nutrient-rich and can be a healthy addition to various dishes.

Growing Green Eggplants: A Gardener's Guide

Green eggplants are relatively easy to grow; just plant them at a good location with good soil and plenty of sun and provide them with enough water and nutrients.

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Choosing a Location

Like their purple siblings, green eggplants thrive in full sunlight and warm conditions. Select a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. The more sun they get, the more productive they'll be.

A location that receives morning sun is preferable as it can dry the dew on the leaves, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

Eggplants, while sturdy, can be damaged by strong winds, especially when laden with fruit. Choose a location that's shielded from strong gusts, or be prepared to provide some sort of windbreak, like a fence or tall plants.

If you've grown related crops (like tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes) in a spot recently, avoid planting eggplants there for at least two to three years. This rotation minimizes the risk of soil-borne diseases.

While this doesn't directly affect the eggplants' growth, selecting a spot that's easy for you to access will make monitoring, watering, pruning, and harvesting more convenient.

Soil Prep And Fertilization

Eggplants dislike "wet feet," which can lead to root rot and other diseases - they prefer well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.3 and 6.8. If uncertain about your soil's pH, a soil test can be conducted using a test kit.

Enrich the soil with organic compost, aged manure, worm castings, or some other organic matter to ensure healthy growth. This not only improves soil texture but also provides essential nutrients.

When fertilizing the eggplants, be sure that the plants receive enough of all essential nutrients; just keep the nitrogen in check, especially when the plants start to flower and young eggplants start to form.

Planting

Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date. Once the danger of frost has passed and seedlings have grown at least 6 inches tall, transplant them outdoors, spacing them 18-24 inches apart.

Eggplants need ample space for their roots to spread and grow. Ensure the location you choose allows you to space the plants at least 18-24 inches apart, with rows about 30-36 inches apart.

Green eggplants can also be grown in pots and containers; just be sure to use larger ones and keep the number of plants in pots to a minimum, preferably only one plant per pot/container.

Watering

Watering is crucial for eggplants (Solanum melongena) to ensure they produce plump and healthy fruits. Here’s a guide to help you understand how, when, and how much to water your eggplants:

Watering Technique

  • Soaker Hose or Drip Irrigation: These are preferred because they deliver water directly to the roots without wetting the leaves. Wet leaves can lead to fungal diseases.
  • Watering Can or Hose: If using these, try to water the base of the plant, avoiding the foliage.
  • Water Depth: Aim to water deeply, so the moisture reaches the roots. A shallow watering promotes surface roots which are more susceptible to drought and heat.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch (like straw or wood chips) around the base of the eggplants. This conserves moisture, suppresses weeds, and keeps the soil temperature consistent.

When To Water Eggplants

  • Seedlings/Transplants: Young plants need consistent moisture. Water them when the top inch of soil starts to feel dry. Do not let them wilt, as this can stunt their growth.
  • Flowering Stage: Consistent moisture is vital during this phase to ensure flowers don't drop and fruits set well.
  • Fruit Development: Eggplants need water to develop healthy fruits. Irregular watering at this stage can cause issues like blossom end rot or misshapen fruits.
  • Drought Conditions: In excessively hot or dry conditions, increase the frequency of watering.
  • Soil Check: A simple method is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry at this depth, it's time to water.

How Much Water Is Actually Needed

  • General Guideline: A good rule of thumb is to provide at least 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. This can be adjusted based on rainfall and soil conditions.
  • Container-Grown Eggplants: Plants in pots dry out faster than those in the ground. Check them daily, especially in hot weather. Ensure pots have drainage holes so excess water can escape.
  • Soil Type: Sandy soils drain faster and may require more frequent watering compared to clay soils, which retain moisture longer.
  • Weather Conditions: On hotter days, eggplants may require more water. Conversely, reduce watering during rainy spells to prevent over-saturation.

Always observe your plants, eggplants included, and adjust watering practices according to their needs.

Overwatering can lead to root rot while underwatering can stress the plant and reduce yield. Keeping a balance is the key to a thriving eggplant garden!

long green eggplant

Support

Eggplants, while not as tall or vining as some other plants, can still benefit from support. As they develop heavy fruits, branches can become weighed down and may even break.

Providing support can help prevent these issues and keep your plants upright, healthy, and producing optimally.

Stakes

  • Materials: Use sturdy stakes made of wood, bamboo, or metal. These should be at least 4-5 feet tall.
  • Installation: Insert the stake about 12-18 inches into the ground, a few inches away from the plant's base, ideally when the plant is still young. Be cautious not to damage the roots.
  • Tying: As the eggplant grows, tie the main stem and heavy branches to the stake. Use soft ties, like cloth strips, garden twine, or specialty plant ties. Ensure ties are snug but not too tight, allowing some room for growth.

Cages

  • Materials: Tomato cages or specially designed eggplant cages can be used. They should be sturdy and at least 3-4 feet tall.
  • Installation: Place the cage over a young plant, pushing it into the ground to stabilize. The plant will grow up through the cage, and its branches will be supported by the cage's rings.

Tips for Supporting Eggplants

  • Install Early: It's easier and less risky to install supports when eggplants are young, as you can avoid damaging established roots or stems.
  • Regular Checks: As the plant grows, regularly check to ensure that ties aren't too tight and that all branches bearing fruits are supported. Adjust as necessary.
  • Avoid Damage: When inserting stakes or other supports, be cautious to avoid damaging roots. When tying stems, be gentle to prevent breaking or bruising them.
  • Spacing: If you're using cages or other wide supports, ensure that you've adequately spaced your eggplants to account for the added width of the supports.

Supporting your eggplants can prevent many potential issues, ensuring that the plant’s energy goes into producing a bountiful harvest.

Plus, a well-supported eggplant patch is easier to navigate, looks tidy, and simplifies tasks like pruning and harvesting.

Eggplant Pests and Diseases

Eggplants, like other garden plants, can be susceptible to various pests and diseases.

Pests

Flea Beetles:

  • Appearance: Tiny, shiny beetles that jump when disturbed.
  • Damage: They create small, round holes in leaves.
  • Control: Use floating row covers to protect young plants. Diatomaceous earth or neem oil can also deter them.

Colorado Potato Beetles:

  • Appearance: Yellow-orange beetles with black stripes on their backs.
  • Damage: They chew large holes in the leaves.
  • Control: Hand-pick and destroy them. Crop rotation can help reduce their numbers in future seasons.

Cutworms:

  • Appearance: Caterpillars that curl into a "C" shape when disturbed.
  • Damage: They cut young plants off at the base.
  • Control: Place collars around young plants' stems or hand-pick the caterpillars at night.

Aphids:

  • Appearance: Small, pear-shaped insects that can be green, black, or other colors.
  • Damage: They suck sap and can cause leaves to curl; they also transmit diseases.
  • Control: Release beneficial insects like ladybugs or apply insecticidal soap or neem oil.

aphids w600px

Spider Mites:

  • Appearance: Tiny, spider-like pests often found on the undersides of leaves.
  • Damage: They cause stippling on leaves, which can then turn yellow or bronze.
  • Control: Increase humidity and use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Diseases:

Verticillium Wilt:

  • Symptoms: Yellowing and wilting of leaves, starting from the bottom of the plant.
  • Control: Crop rotation, use disease-resistant varieties, and remove and destroy infected plants.

Fusarium Wilt:

  • Symptoms: Yellowing of leaves and wilting, often on just one side or branch of the plant initially.
  • Control: Use resistant varieties and practice crop rotation.

Bacterial Wilt:

  • Symptoms: Rapid wilting and death of the plant without yellowing of leaves.
  • Control: Remove and destroy infected plants. Control cucumber beetles, which spread the disease.

Late Blight:

  • Symptoms: Dark spots on leaves that spread quickly, leading to rotting fruits.
  • Control: Avoid overhead watering, provide good air circulation, and apply copper-based fungicides.

Blossom End Rot:

  • Symptoms: Dark, sunken spots at the blossom end of the fruit.
  • Control: Provide consistent moisture and ensure the soil has adequate calcium.

General Tips for Pest and Disease Management

  • Good Hygiene: Always remove and destroy infected plants or plant parts to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Crop Rotation: Rotating crops can break the life cycles of pests and diseases.
  • Resistant Varieties: If a particular disease is common in your area, consider planting resistant varieties.
  • Beneficial Insects: Encourage predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which can help control many pests.

While the above solutions offer ways to manage and treat pests and diseases, prevention is often the best strategy.

By maintaining healthy soil, ensuring good air circulation, and regularly inspecting plants for early signs of issues, one can often prevent many problems before they become severe.

Harvesting

Green eggplants are ready for harvest when they have a glossy sheen. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the eggplant, leaving a short stub of the stem attached.

The Health Benefits of Green Eggplants

Green eggplants are not just delicious; they're also packed with health benefits:

  • Rich in Nutrients: They're a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, niacin, and magnesium.
  • Dietary Fiber: Known to aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut.
  • Antioxidants: Eggplants contain anthocyanins, compounds that combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
  • Low in Calories: Making them a perfect addition to weight-conscious meal plans.

Incorporating Green Eggplants in Your Cuisine

Green eggplants can be used similarly to the purple variety in cooking. They are versatile and soak up flavors beautifully.

Whether you're making a stir-fry, grilling, roasting, or preparing a classic dish like ratatouille, green eggplants can be a fantastic addition.


thai green eggplant

Few Final Words

Green eggplants are a delightful twist on a well-loved vegetable. They're more than just a colorful addition to your garden or plate; they're packed with health benefits and culinary potential.

So, the next time you spot these emerald beauties at a farmer's market or nursery, give them a try – they might just become your new favorite ingredient!



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