Gardening in 2017 - smaller, less, complex, interesting - and underway! Choices part 1 - Eggplant

Time continues to race from me. My goal is to blog about something every week; however, at this point, once a month seems to be the rule. I hope to remedy that - with lots of seeds planted and speaking events about to begin (as in tomorrow, in Williamston NC), it is time to return to weekly blogging.  Don't hold me to it...but let's be optimistic.

I am in the family room, banging away at my laptop on our sofa, flanked by two of our cats (Sam never shows up until later on), Sue knitting in the corner chair, the TED radio hour playing on our Echo. Upstairs, in my office on heat mats in front of one of the windows are four flats of seeds. When seeds are planted, the garden has officially begun.

Seed flats of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes, Work done between Feb 11-15

Seed flats of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes, Work done between Feb 11-15


Here begins discussions about my 2017 strategy; I will share the contents of each of those seedling flats, by crop, as well as the reasons for the choices, in a series of blogs. 

The seedling flat planted on February 11 represents my eggplant and pepper choices for the year. There is always a method to my madness. In the case of eggplants, my goal is to try to finish off the development of a set of varieties obtained by dehybridizing the early fruiting hybrid Orient Express, and a chance cross of a variety called Casper.

From Orient Express, I've identified three distinct varieties; Midnight Lightning (dark green purple foliage, long slender black purple fruit), Twilight Lightning (deep green leaves with purple veins, long slender medium purple fruit with a slight brownish cast due to the pale green under-color), and Skinny Twilight (medium green leaves, pale veins, long very slender white fruit with a strong lavender over-wash). 

I planted 6 different selections of Midnight Lightning, 5 of Twilight Lightning, and 6 of Skinny Twilight. Depending upon germination and foliage characteristics, I may grow no more than 2 from each category.

From the creative work of bees on a white variety called Casper, all sorts of interesting colors arose over the last few years. One particularly caught my eye due to its unique and attractive coloring - pale green tear-drop shape with a distinct pale purple over-wash. I've called it Mardi Gras (the color reminds me of a string of Mardi  Gras beads), and am growing the best two leads from last year.

Next blog - the peppers!

How about a bit of unexpectedly early spring color - captured at Raulston Arboretum last week on a warm winter day....and some of our daffodils.