Saved by the bell


Our dear friend, the gopher, has managed to ravage nearly a third of the garden. After removing all of the onion, the gopher ate both a zucchini plant and two tomato plants in their entirety. Luckily, it left the eggplants untouched, in addition to a variety of peppers; I was able to harvest seven nicely sized black beauty eggplants this morning. The dark purplish eggplants that we are all familiar with aren’t the only form this vegetable takes. Generally, green eggplants are used most often in Thai cuisine. Similarly, white eggplants are common place in Chinese food. The variety of eggplant we are most familiar with, purple, is used in Indian food. The variety you find me eating is none of them, as eggplants are, for lack of a better term, gross. For best production, eggplants should be planted two and a half to three feet apart, however, I planted them between a foot and a foot and a half apart. Regardless, I seemed to get quite a good yield. Luckily, our garden doesn’t have a flea beetle problem, one of the eggplant’s worst pests. They chew many tiny holes in the leaves of vegetables, preventing them from conducting photosynthesis. In order to prevent an infestation of such insects, frequently check the underside of leaves, as that is the most common location for laying eggs. Since eggplants reach maturation at different sizes, it may be difficult to determine when to harvest. From experience, it seems that when the skin of the fruit becomes glossy and is still soft, you should remove it from the plant. If the skin is hard and brown, slightly dull as well, then it will likely taste bitter and unfortunately has become over-ripe. Eggplants ripen very quickly off the stem as well, so plucking the fruit off the plant when it is about two-thirds its mature size is not a bad idea. Hopefully the gopher begins to eat the eggplants and leaves the good vegetables alone.

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