Friday, October 31, 2014


Eggplant “Pot Black”
is a compact variety for container growing producing
many 2-3 oz. glossy oval black fruits over a long growing
season. Attractive plants & tasty fruit. Sun.
While the eggplant is considered a minor crop in the US, in the Orient it is more popular than either the tomato or potato according to Dr. Sam Cotner, author of “The Vegetable Book, A Texan’s guide to Gardening” (p. 141). We've found eggplants very easy to grow in our area. I have customers who have had their eggplants growing for several years at a time.

There are a lot of tasty ways you can prepare them. I like to slice the larger ones in ¼ to ½ inch slices and brush them with olive oil and grill them for an easy tasty treat. The long slender varieties are just the right bite-size when fried  using a batter recipe.

Basic Gardening Tips for any Planting

Eggplants, like other plants here, grow best in raised beds. Raised beds provide good drainage. They also grow well in large container pots. We planted each variety in a large pot (5 gallon size or larger) on our patio one year just to see how well each grew and tasted.

Scattering a couple inches of compost in your bed and incorporating into your soil beforehand not only improves plant growth but it will also improve moisture retention in the soil.

We like to use smaller tomato cages and fit them over the transplant when first planted to keep the plant upright when it’s loaded with fruit.

I pick any yellowed leaves from plants and throw these away along with any dead leaves that drop from plants.


Water deep and frequently in dry or hot weather. But first check - If the first couple inches of soil are dry, than water.  In containers, water till the water runs out the hole in the bottom of the container, wait a few minutes and water deeply again. Add fertilizer several times during the growing season. Mulching around plants also helps retain moisture and adds nutrients to the soil as the compost breaks down.

I’ve found watering my garden early in the morning rather than late in the day has prevented a lot of foliage diseases and I have less bad bugs because of it.


“Pinholes in leaves from flea beetles are of no concern,” according to Dr. Bob Randall, author of Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston. When watering early in the morning I’ll find pill bugs or roly polys eating on leaves and will flick them off with my finger. When watering,  I’ll spray water on the underside of leaves to discourage spider mites and aphids.


How do you when your eggplants are ready to pick? Some people think you have to wait till they grow really big but that’s not the case. You can pick them small or large as long as their skin is still shiny or glossy. When their skin becomes dull, their color starts to fade or they turn yellow, that’s a sign they are getting over ripe and bitter and should be harvested before then. If you leave overripe fruit on the plant it will slow production down. One plant will produce a huge number if you keep them picked.

When ready to harvest, use a knife or pruning shears to cut the stem right above the eggplant. Wear gloves when harvesting as some eggplants have a prickly stem end.

There are two varieties new to me I'm trying this year - Epic and Pot Black. All the rest are varieties we've had great success with:

Black Beauty” – Classic big-fruited black eggplant. Large fruits are glossy, well shaped, and perfect for thick slices, just right for grilling, pan frying or eggplant parmesan. (This is the one you see in the store.)

“Clara” (F1) - Unique, large, white Italian-type eggplant. Green calyx. High-yielding & early bearing. Fruits 6-7" long x 4-5" wide. Full Sun.

“Dancer” (F1) Bright neon purple fruits w/green calyx. Plants are strong & high-yielding. Fruit is mid-sized, semi-cylindrical, mild tasting & non-bitter flavor.

Eggplant Epic F1 - Premium quality oval eggplant variety. Fruits are glossy purple-black and average 9" long x 3 1/2" wide. Strong, vigorous, upright plants to 3 feet tall. Sun.

“Fengyuan Purple” - Very long & slender Asian eggplant with fruit 12-18" long. Non-peel thin-skinned beautiful purple fruits. Creamy-white mild flesh w/no bitterness - great for grilling or stir fry.

"Pingtung Long" (Chinese type) - Slender violet-purple heirloom fruit 12-18" long w/excellent mild flavor & tender white flesh. Thrives in heat & humidity w/continuous large harvests. Sun & good soil best.

Eggplant “Pot Black”
Compact variety for container growing. Produces many 2-3 oz. glossy oval black fruits over a long growing season.  Attractive plants & tasty fruit. Sun.

Thai Green "Kermit" - Traditional Thai type eggplant. Small, ball-shaped fruit about 2" across - green marbled with white stripes. Productive. Used in Asian dishes, shish-kebab and grilling. Sun. Good Soil.

Eggplants are low cal, satisfying and are a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, fiber, manganese, B vitamins and many antioxidants. They certainly thrive in our weather conditions.

Feel free to share your experiences, photos and recipes.
Debbie Cox

Friday, October 3, 2014

Your Local Gardening Programs

FALL is for Gardening 2014 and Spring 2015

Do you want to learn more about gardening? I get a lot of questions about gardening that I wish I could answer more in-depth at the farmers market.

Don't wait - check these out.
Veggie transplants for fall garden planting.

Brownsville Wellness Coalition - Free Gardening Classes

Open to the public.
No experience necessary.
Held every first and 3rd Thursday of the month, 6:00 pm at the Parks and Recreation Center on 8th Street & Tyler St., Brownsville, TX
Find out more about the Brownsville Community Gardens.
Contact Elizabeth Garcia 956.459.3205.

Texas AgriLife Extension Service Events
Call 956.361.8236 for programs below

2015 Master Gardener Program

(I highly recommend - have been a TMG since 96)
Sign up NOW to get on the contact list to be considered.
Fee and so many hrs. of training in exchange for volunteer hrs.
in the community earns you the title of "Texas Master Gardener."
Orientation starts the last week of January.

FREE Vegetable Gardening Educational Program

Growing and Nourishing Healthy Communities Cameron County
All classes begin at 6 pm throughout Cameron County
from October 13 - November 13, 2014
Contact Scott Kunkle at 956.361.8236 for schedule.

An Introduction to Aquaponics:The Production of both Fish andVegetables in a Soil-less Environment

Friday, November 7, 2014

Food Safety for the Small Acreage Producer/Webinar

Thursday, October 16, 2014, 9 am – Noon

Fall Garden Festival and Free Gardening Workshops

North San Juan Park on Saturday, October 18, 2014, 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Free workshops for families, plant sale. Topics include a hands-on presentation on Plant Propagation, How to Make a Square Foot Garden, Composting, Preventing Citrus Greening Disease, Rainwater Harvesting demo and Fall Vegetable Gardening.

Permaculture Design Certification - FREE

Begins October so sign up now.
If you know of more, please let me know so I can pass them along!