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Baby aubergines

Photo: Baby aubergines

Photo: Baby aubergines

I sprang home last Spring with a pack of Chinese legend aubergines, dreaming of a greenhouse full of aubergine plants laden with succulent fruit. By the end of the summer I had not even seen a flower let alone a peep of an aubergine.

Since then I’ve discovered that the seeds need to be sown really early (by January in a heated greenhouse at the latest). So I didn’t bother this year.

About a month ago I was costing a job in Saffron Walden, for my old pal Anna of onion gravy fame. And I popped into the Springwell Nursery to buy some stakes.  Our brassicas need to be protected from greedy gourmet wood pigeon.

I spotted that they were selling off their vegetable plants for £1.25. Small aubergine plants were weighed down with flowers. Aubergines (the fruit of egg plants) are roughly a pound each in the UK. The plant that I bought plant had eight buds. If all went well I could harvest £8.00 worth of aubergines for a fraction of the cost.

With a little nurturing the plant produced another flush of flowers.
“This is the golden goose of aubergine plants.” Danny smiled.

There was just one thing that worried me. The plant was just over a foot high, how could it produce normal sized aubergines (6-8 inches)?

One glorious day a tiny aubergine appeared. We waited and held our breath for it to grow to a reasonable size. It got fatter and paused. Eventually I touched it and it fell into my hand. Half had rotted under the mob cap of leaves. Finally I twigged that a small plant will produce dinky fruit. So a couple of weeks later I harvested these mini fruit. Barely two inches (five centimetres) long.
When I was photographing them Danny appeared.
“No one will know how small they are.” Danny added helpfully.
“If I explain the history and size they will.”

Now I wish that I’d bought three plants. We’d have enough aubergines to make some of Oded Schwartz’s mini preserved vegetables. Meanwhile I’m scratching my brains for a doll’s sized appetiser recipe for tomorrow. Any suggestions would be very welcome indeed.


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13 Comments

  1. mad foetus

    Great website – just found it looking up sloe gin ideas.

    But on this subject I planted the chinese ancestor aubergine seeds on New Years day indoors. Very slow going. I planted them out in the greenhouse border in about March but they never seemed happy so I planted some more seeds in April. These have grown well and I picked my first fruits today (short fat dark aubergines, but one plant has long thin white ones).

    I mulched the border heavily with seaweed last winter, maybe that made the difference. I have also had a lot of success growing a variety of white Aubergine (Bonica?) a couple of years back. Sowed them in late February and by mid August had a glut. I suspect aubergines may have a problem getting going again if their growth is checked.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    I really appreciate your contribution. I had no idea that aubergines are perrenial plants. I wish I’d known this last year when the fruitless aubergine plants were jettisoned into the composter.

    This year’s one is clearly a miniature but fruiting like mad. It will be cherished in The Rat Room http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=113 over winter.

    The heating sounds like a nightmare that will expand with the credit crunch – poor you.

    Hello Rose

    Thank you. That sounds great. In fact I tried it and it was ?

    Hello Jen

    I tried this too and it was great. Thank you!

    Hello Jane

    Joanna’s tips about overwintering might have helped you. Can’t wait to see if our mini aubergine plant survives overwinter.

    Hi Lally

    That sounds a bit technical to me. How do you do it? Simple steps for a beginner.

    Hello Kate (uk)

    Thanks for dropping by with a supremo suggestion as always.

    Hi Ocktarine

    Enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you.

    Also thanks for the nettle tea tip. Too early to post results but very hopeful.

    Hello Jacqui

    These were wonderful. Tried them this evening. Thank you so much for dropping by.

  3. These are nice:

    http://www.waitrose.com/recipe/Aubergine_Rolls_Stuffed_with_Feta_and_Mint.aspx

    “Aubergine Rolls Stuffed with Feta and Mint”

    I had them made with big aubergines, but I’m sure teeny tiny ones would be just as nice.

    Jacqui

  4. oktarine

    Feding the plants with nettle tea will improve your results. Better still, plant the aubergines where nettles used to grow.

    We have a link to your site on ours – www.readsallotmentretreat.blogspot.com – we’ve been watching your progress for some time.

    We found you again yesterday when we googled recipe ideas for cherry plums.

    Keep up the great work.

    TTFN

  5. kate (uk)

    Slice them, add some cherry tomatoes, then dollop some pesto in and stir about ( any pesto flavour you fancy), cover and bake, stir before serving. Yum.

  6. Try aubergines grafted onto tomato root stock. Loads more
    flowers/veg. The same applies to peppers.

  7. I tried Aubergine last year after a freecycler kindly gifted me a couple of plants – not very successful though! Both Rose and Jen’s suggestions sound yummy, the last time I ate Aubergine was in a tapas bar in Barcelona last October,cooked in olive oil and grilled – yummy!

  8. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways, slosh on a decent olive oil and sprinkle with paprika (smoked is nice if you’ve got it) cook on a tray cut side up in the oven or under the grill until soft and golden. Eat hot or cool with crusty bread to mop up the juices. Heaven!

  9. If you slice the aubergines really thinly you can roll the slices around a bit of soft cheese with herbs and then bake them in tomato sauce. I have only ever done this with larger aubergines but I see no reason it wouldn’t work with tiny ones too

  10. Our aubergine plants show no signs of flowering yet and we are into August but I did read that they are actually perennial plants so if you bring them in and treat them like a houseplant then eventually you will get aubergines, so that is the plan. We had pepper plants outside last year that didn’t do anything so brought a couple inside and they are now onto their second crop of peppers this year so hoping for the same result.

    One concern though is the early winter if our dear heat suppliers decide that we aren’t going to get any heat until folks pay their arrears – not likely in this current climate so the plants may have to go to some friends for a few weeks until we do get some heat on. By the way we are on a communal heating system Soviet style, so one on all on, one off all off! There are still some changes required here in Latvia

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