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Elegant Eggplant: The Complete Guide to Growing, Cooking, and Eating Eggplant

Norann Oleson, Editorial Director of Food Gardening Network

Norann Oleson, Editorial Director of Food Gardening Network

Welcome friend! Isn’t it time you enjoyed some elegant and exquisite eggplants in your garden?

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known as aubergine or guinea squash and close relative to the tomato, is a tender perennial fruiting nightshade that is self-pollinating. Like tomatoes, eggplant is considered a fruit because the edible portion of the plant comes from the flower of the plant, and because it contains seeds.

You probably don’t think of a distinct flavor when it comes to eggplant, and that’s because the fruit has a very mild and neutral earthy flavor with a mushroom-like texture that makes it perfect for marinating, sautéing, and using a mandolin to turn it into sheets of lasagna. It’s quite a versatile fruit in the kitchen (though you can’t eat it raw), but it’s equally as enjoyed in the garden!

In fact, if you’re growing spinach or swiss chard, eggplant can be a beneficial friend to your crop because it does a great job providing shade, while the greens help the soil retain moisture, which eggplant needs. Broccoli is another friend of the eggplant, because it enriches the soil with the types of nutrients that eggplants need, as do pole beans!

You can start growing eggplants in your garden, on your deck, or even hydroponically indoors. We’ll walk you through the whole process.

First is the collection’s Introduction, where you’ll learn some of the basics about eggplants and how to choose the right variety to grow. You’ll also get the history of this vibrant nightshade.

Next, in the Feature Articles, you’ll get specifics about eggplant growing—from the types of eggplants to the best way to start growing to watering, fertilizing, and harvesting your plants so they stay healthy and productive throughout the season.

There’s a lot to know about growing eggplant, so even if you’re a veteran, you might learn something new. We aim to gather everything there is to know about growing eggplant into this single collection!

We have several fun Plant Profiles with the more popular varieties listed, including options for gardeners around the country and those who want to grow eggplants in containers or indoors.

There are dozens of varieties of eggplants throughout the world, but not all of them are available in the United States. We’ve chosen these plant profiles because they are some of the most commonly grown. If you’d like us to include another variety that appeals to you, please let me know by commenting below.

After all, this is Food Gardening Network, and we want to include the knowledge of all our gardening readers in everything we do. Your input is just as important to us as anything we come up with on our own!

We do think you’ll love the eggplant Recipes we’ve compiled for enjoying the fruits of your labor. They cover some of our favorite ways to cook eggplant and enjoy healthy side dishes and meals. Remember, eggplant should always be cooked before eaten!

After that, you’ll be interested to learn how eggplant can benefit your health in Nutrition Facts about Eggplant. Eggplant is rich in fiber and potassium, and is also high in polyphenols which can aid in processing sugar.

Then there are the Home Remedies & Health Benefits of Eggplant where you’ll learn how eggplant may help control blood sugar, aid in weight loss, and fight cancer.

Because we want you to have everything there is to know about eggplant at your fingertips, we’ve included a Resources section that’s complementary to this collection. Learn more about tools specific to growing eggplant and kitchen tools that will come in handy after you’ve harvested your fruits.

As always, we’ve included a brief Glossary in case you need a deeper explanation of any key terms. Be sure to let us know if there’s something else you need explained.

I’m off to make some Eggplant Rollatini for dinner right now, but I hope you’re ready to dive in and become a master eggplant grower!

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