Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Gardens are starting to shape up for Spring and today the days are starting to get longer again!

Posted Saturday, December 21, 2013, at 7:58 PM
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  • So, let me get this right....you love gardening so much, your moving your bath tub out near the garden near the garlic and the wood chips will stabilize them...and they will have sliding doors. I think that would be nice...you can bath and eat maters at the same time...you might wanna put a towel rack on that sliding door....you might need a towel when others are poking around....I need more coffee this morning!....my days seem to be getting longer as well. :)

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Sun, Dec 22, 2013, at 8:04 AM
  • Seriously though those plots look great...I sure wish I had the room to have a huge garden..

    I have been wanting to dig into the art of canning a little more and have been wanting to test a few exotics not common in the states...dad has a lot of fruit trees but don't have a lot of time to tend them so the birds and coons got most the fruit this past year...I wanted the cherries but they were all there and full one day and it was like overnight they were gone...I have definitely been wanting a plot of squash, acorn, spaghetti, mostly with some different zucchini varieties...I have been experimenting with Japanese eggplant lately...need to read up on them a little more, not sure they do well in this climate.

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Sun, Dec 22, 2013, at 8:20 AM
  • Japanese eggplant should grow with no problem, EXCEPT for the flea beetle. They're a pain.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Dec 22, 2013, at 1:31 PM
  • I went out to work on my bathtubs (with sliding doors) and ended up digging out a drainage ditch that had backed up from roots. I thought I was working in a rice paddy.

    Also raised up my cold frame to relocate it, and rebuild it since a few boards needed replacing.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Dec 22, 2013, at 4:17 PM
  • That particular variety of eggplant is very versatile, and you don't have to worry about salting and draining to get the bitter out...I think there are white, and purple ones...one of my many favorite things is eggplant caponata...its perfect for it!...those huge, purple, deflated football, looking eggplants are a pain.

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Sun, Dec 22, 2013, at 10:25 PM
  • Watch what you say chefgrape...ALL eggplant is good! I think I have grown every variety (for some reason, it grows really well at my place) and they are always tasty. I started grating them and mixing them into hamburgers a few years ago with seasoning-BBQ them and yummy!

    Any eggplant recipes you can share would be great!

    Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Mon, Dec 23, 2013, at 6:07 AM
  • Grating them into hamburgers, does it make lean meat juicier or it adds to the flavor? I would have never thought about that.

    espoontoon I think I've asked you this before but what do you do about flea beetles?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Dec 23, 2013, at 7:22 AM
  • I was headed outside to do some work during lunch, but someone left the darn freezer door open again. May do some wood splitting but think I will pass on the bathtub project.

    Business has REALLY slowed down so my indoor activities will probably go toward spiffing up our websites. Not that I am a programmer but for at least one time a year, I become dangerous and try.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Dec 23, 2013, at 12:31 PM
  • LOL...well espoontoon my experience with other varieties besides the ones mentioned is very limited...I'd love to know which one you find the tastiest so I can try it out...I've mostly worked country clubs and eliminated the larger one quick due to bitter complaints...all the others have been fine..I have mostly used the Japanese variety in dishes like eggplant rollatini and lasagna...the caponata I mentioned is eggplant,olive,anchovies,garlic,roasted red peppers, fresh oregano, etc. used as a kind of a bruschetta relish for toasted french bread...I'll try and add a few eggplant recipes this month to the blog...so keep your eye out for them...my eggplant lasagna is made with a white alfredo...it's rich, but the flavors meld perfect...and its easy!...if yu have items or favorite flavors...just make a list and holler...I'd be more then happy to combine them in a recipe for you...I love a culinary challenge..Those surprise baskets on chopped, if you have seen that show, are vary common in chef training.

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Mon, Dec 23, 2013, at 1:11 PM
  • By the way Chef, I don't know if you realize that you know espoontoon from our garden club. I try not to tie aliases to real names, but if you are not sure, let me know by email.

    espoontoon, it sounds like you takes your eggplants as serious as I take my edamame. :-)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Dec 23, 2013, at 6:01 PM
  • Steve-The flea beetles are usually pretty easy to spot early on before they do too much damage. I just kill them by hand. I've never had them bother anything but the leaves, so if I get to them late they are still salvageable.

    Chefgrape--I really don't take my eggplant that seriously, BUT they have moved up to number one on my list of most bountiful from the garden since I can't get my squash to survive anymore. I started using a 'healthy' recipe for Eggplant Parmesan by baking it without any oil. It tastes really good although it's still not the same as Italian bread crumbs and frying in olive oil:) Someone at work gave me some Japanese Eggplants this Fall. They were VERY skinny, maybe an inch maximum in diameter, and I thought they were picked too soon. They were very yummy sliced up on a pizza though! And I kept some seeds too!

    Eggplant has a distinct flavor. I don't consider any of the varieties of them 'bitter', but some have a stronger Eggplant flavor. It's all good to me...

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Tue, Dec 24, 2013, at 6:22 AM
  • espoontoon, your lack of serious issues with the flea beetle makes me re-evaluate the health of my plants. When do you normally plant them?

    I have been blaming poor performance on the beetles but in fact, I may be seeing so many beetles because the plant health is lacking.

    It has been a long-standing, accepted belief that weak plants are highly susceptible to insect attack and much more likely to suffer when such an attack occurs. Maybe I have been missing the "writing on the wall" that Mother Nature has been sending me.

    While I have always believed that if tomatoes grow well, so should eggplant, I may be missing something for them, so I will be taking a CLOSE look and pay special attention to their growing conditions next season.

    I have planted them in pots before since flea beetle larvae live in the soil, but they hopped on up anyway. I am afraid that covering them with row covers may not help if they emerge from the soil under the cover, but I will try anyway.

    I will also lightly cultivate the soil before and after planting them with a sprinkle of diatomaceous earth (DE) to see if I can disrupt the larvae. A spray of DE, hot pepper, horticultural oil and soap has knocked them down in the past, but I cannot seem to keep up with them.

    Plant health is where I will focus my attention, but of course, I will keep the other practices up as well.

    I plan to plant an Italian eggplant called Black Night, an oval to egg shaped dark purple fruit 4-6" in diameter and matures in 75 days. I cannot find if this is a hybrid or heirloom but maybe I will know before seed saving time.

    Another new one will be Ping Tung. 70 days, up to 18" long and 2" diameter. This I know IS an heirloom so I hope it produces well for saving.

    I will start both in just a few weeks inside (duh). I plan on them being strong and VERY healthy before they go out to do battle with the flea beetles.

    Any tips espoontoon?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 24, 2013, at 11:20 AM
  • Buddy I am sorry to hear about your flea beetle problem. About the only thing I can tell you is that I start mine from seed, no matter what variety. If the flea beetles get the leaves really bad, I just kill them so they can't spread. Sometimes I'll put a little Miracle Grow on them when that happens and the leaves and plant always recover just fine. I think Eggplant just grow well in Tn. It takes a lot to kill them.

    Wish I could give you a better answer. One year I had 23 plants. It was much more than I could use, so I would give them away by the grocery bag to my Greek friends in Murfreesboro. In exchange, they would make me some awesome parmesan at their restaurant.

    Actually Steve, the secret to growing eggplant is good clean living! Not sure what you are doing wrong haha!

    Merry Christmas!

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Tue, Dec 24, 2013, at 12:00 PM
  • Clean living? According to my wife, I get dirty just looking outside let alone going outside. Half the fun of being outside is playing in the mud.

    How can I do clean living? I might as well give these eggplant seeds to the birds. Darn!

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 24, 2013, at 1:13 PM
  • I've seen some flea beetle damage on the leaves of my eggplants before, but it's never been bad enough for me to be too concerned about it.

    I agree with your comment about healthy plants having some built-in resistance. I make sure to have good compost incorporated into the soil.

    Just as an extra safety precaution, I have used row cover fabric over the eggplants before, and that does seem to work well. In theory, if you've done some rotation, most of the beetles would emerge from the soil elsewhere in the garden, and then have difficulty getting to the covered plants.

    -- Posted by mg.mark on Thu, Dec 26, 2013, at 1:12 PM
  • When the FB get my eggplants it is feast time for them.

    I've put them in potting soil and pots. Tried special treatment in the garden and while the tomatoes do fine, the eggplants are decimated.

    Something is missing, so I think I will research micro-nutrients and do a soil test, along with the row cover and clean living, of course. :-)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Dec 26, 2013, at 6:45 PM
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