Connecticut Garden Journal: For delicious Asian eggplants this summer, start your seeds now
It's hard to think about mid summer vegetables when it's still cold and brown outside, but if you want to try some unusual eggplant varieties in your garden this year, now is the time to start seeds indoors.
While eggplants are considered a quintessential Italian dish in many homes (my mom used to make a mean eggplant parm), it actually hales from India and China. In that part of the world, Asian eggplants are not just dark purple, but white, green and even orange skinned. These Asian eggplants tend to have more tender skin and sweeter flavor than the European, large teardrop types.
I like 'Asian Delight' and 'Ping Tung Long' for their long, narrow, light purple colored fruits. 'Bride' has a similar shape with white skin and purple streaks. For Thai cooking, try the green skinned, golf ball shaped 'Kermit' which is great in soups or 'Korean Red' with its orange colored skin. Some hybrids, such as 'Fairy Tale', are short and narrow fitting perfectly on a grilling skewer.
Start your eggplant seeds now under lights. I plant two seeds per 2-inch pot filled with moistened germinating mix soil. I also use a heating pad under the pots to hasten germination.
Once the eggplants have true leaves remove the weaker seedling from the pot. Transplant the remaining plant once the height of the seedling is 3 times the diameter of the pot or about 6 inches tall. Keep the seedlings well watered and fertilized.
Transplant seedlings once the soil is warm, about a week or so after planting tomatoes. Protect young plants from cold snaps with a floating row cover.