It is never too early to determine which garden plants you will grow in next year’s garden. Eggplants would be a good choice, for excellent reasons.
Eggplants are among the plants that are great to grow in a garden. They have a very good taste and they are healthy to eat. Though the fruits only set when the low temperatures don’t drop below 65 F or 18.3 C, there aren’t a lot of places where they can’t be grown, if they are properly tended to.
If the plants are healthy and well-maintained, they can also produce heavily. This means that there can be a large production for a relatively small amount of space.
Nutrition of eggplants
Eggplants are really good for your health. According to Self Nutrition Data, a cup of eggplant fruit has only 33 calories, yet it is high in fiber. This vegetable contains vitamins A, C, E, K, and the B vitamins except for B12. Eggplants also have a fairly good amount of minerals, including potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. A cup contains almost 15 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-oxidant properties, which are linked to fighting and preventing cancer. Pound for pound, tomatoes may contain more vitamins and nutrients than eggplant, but eggplant is still healthy, especially for people who are trying to lose weight or who are fighting cancer.
General information about eggplants
Eggplants (Solanum melongena) are members of the nightshade family. This is the family that tomatoes, potatoes, peppers (both bell peppers and hot peppers) and deadly nightshade all belong to.
Incidentally, deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) is one of the most toxic plants in North America. However, deadly nightshade is where the heart and intestinal medicine called atropine comes from.
Eggplants are sometimes called aubergines, especially in Europe, and the fruit is quite edible and tasty. In Asia and South Africa, it is usually known as brinjal. The plant is tropical and is native to Asia, where it was domesticated thousands of years ago. The original plant has thorns and small fruit while the domesticated version has no thorns and most cultivars have large fruit. It is commonly grown in the Middle East and in the countries around the Mediterranean. It is also a popular garden plant in the US, Canada, Australia and Britain (where it is usually called aubergine).
Warning: As with tomatoes, only the fruit is edible. The flowers, leaves, stems, and roots contain a toxic alkaloid called solanine and shouldn’t be eaten.
There are many cultivars of eggplants today and not all of the ripe fruit is dark blue to almost black, although that is the most common and it is the kind normally found in stores. In fact, some varieties have white fruit. The fruit shape can also vary, from pear-shaped to narrow and elongated to round. It is the round ones from which the common name comes as it was thought that the shape resembled goose eggs, hence, egg plant.
Soaking sliced eggplants in salted water prior to eating them is said to reduce the absorption of fat and it also removes the natural bitterness. There are also many ways to cook eggplants, including stewing them, frying them, baking them, and roasting them.
Though the plant is frost sensitive and can die easily if the temperatures drop, eggplants can be grown virtually anyplace that tomatoes can be grown.
Commercially, most eggplants come from China, India, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey. Even though eggplants grow well in the US and Canada, neither country even ranks in the top 10 as commercial producers, according to the USDA. However, in the US, most commercial eggplants are grown in Florida, Georgia, and California.
Eggplants may be useful in weight loss and also for lowering cholesterol levels. However, it does also contain very small amounts of nicotine. Tobacco is also a member of the nightshade family. However, we are definitely talking about a small amount. Twenty pounds of eggplants contain about the amount of nicotine that one cigarette contains. As not many people are going to be eating 20 pounds of eggplants in a short period of time, eggplants wouldn’t be considered to be addictive. I could argue that point as my daughter totally loves them and will go out of her way to eat them.
The top picture shows one of the small harvests off of three plants, plus two long, narrow ones off of another plant before they even got rinsed off. The two long ones are at the top of the picture and the coffee cup is to give a size perspective. This was from s garden a few years ago and we were able to enjoy fried eggplant many times over the course of a couple of months.
Eggplants are among those vegetable fruits that people should consider growing if they have a garden. I fully intend on growing more of them this year.