Late August in the Garden, the Eggplants are here!


The garden did not fare as well I had hoped this year, we had a very rainy summer and the cucumbers and squash did not survive despite my best efforts.  I think they just got too much water, they all had flowers on them especially the squash but no fruit ever did develop and finally the vines all turned brown and died.  The other problem may have been that using window boxes for them was not a good idea, they weren’t deep enough for a proper root system to form so next year I will be looking for deeper containers to grow those in.  It’s a lesson that I will use to make next years’ garden better, it’s all a learning experience for me.

The good news is that the eggplant seeds that I planted all the way back in February have finally matured.  It seemed to take forever for them to grow and I repeatedly thinned them based on which ones seemed the most viable.  I now have 5 mature plants.  At this stage they all have multiple flowers on them and one plant has had an eggplant start growing from a flower.  It has been very interesting to me to watch the process as I have never in my life seen how they grow so during all stages of the process it was new to me.  I was very excited to see fruit actually growing a little over a week ago and I took a picture of it.  It started out white in color with only a little light purple striation to it and really did look like an egg.  I was very surprised that it took 6 months for the plants to get to this point.  We are lucky to have a long growing season here in the south.

eggplant flower

eggplant flower

Eggplants growing

Eggplants growing

early eggplant fruit

early eggplant fruit

first stage of eggplant fruit development

first stage of eggplant fruit development

eggplant2

 

Yesterday when I got home from work I was pleasantly surprised to see that this “egg” had turned purple and shiny!! 

 

turning purple and shiny!

turning purple and shiny!

I will be interested to see how large it gets.  I transplanted that plant into its own pot hoping it will continue to send roots down.  I moved another robust plant to its own pot months ago and that one is covered in flowers so I believe I will have a pretty good crop of them or at least I hope it continues.  My tomato plants were looking pretty sad, it looks like something has been munching on the foliage although I never saw any pests on them.  Last night I pruned off all the damaged foliage and tied up the rest of the plants on one side of the gazebo like a trellis, there are some flowers and a little green tomato so we shall see if they can rally and produce some more tomatoes.  We have picked quite a few but not as many as I had hoped since I have 3 very large plants in that pot.  We have diced them up and put them in spaghetti sauce and in alfredo so at least we got some output from them.  Again, I think all that rain did a lot of damage to them.  I fed all these plants with miracle grow last night and harvested some more basil.  The basil has grown beautifully this year, this is at least the 4th time I have harvested it, I just cut off the tops and leave 6-8 inches of the plant so it can grow back, like giving it a haircut.

We used some of it in our seafood alfredo dinner last night and I have to say there is nothing like fresh basil just harvested to add flavor to your Italian cooking!  I have been trying different methods of preserving it for future use.  I have some of it frozen in ice cube trays using olive oil (saw that idea on Pinterest LOVE that site!)  There are 2 ways; water and oil but I felt that using water would just leave me with wilted leaves and too much moisture.

Preserving in olive oil seems to be the best method.  I froze the chopped basil by filling compartments of the ice cube tray, then pouring the olive oil just enough to cover.  I have already used some of these cubes by putting them in a pan (I used 4) , letting them thaw over heat, thickening with a little flour to make a roux (thickened starter for any white sauce), adding fat free half and half and fresh grated parmesan and viola I had a very nice pesto parmesan sauce! 

 

Bsil preserved in oil and salt in a jar kept in the fridge

Bsil preserved in oil and salt in a jar kept in the fridge

freshly harvested basil

freshly harvested basil

basil frozen in Olive oil "cubes"

basil frozen in Olive oil “cubes”

 

I am also experimenting with putting the chopped basil in a glass jar and using the same method, covering with olive oil and about ¼ tsp salt and keeping in the fridge like you do with garlic but that probably won’t keep as long as the frozen ones but I can take out the amount I need for a particular meal as needed since it doesn’t need to thaw first.

I hope this post helps out you other “foodies” and gardeners out there!  Have a great day and a great weekend and as always, thanks for reading! 🙂

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