Some crops are just made for hotter weather, and zucchini (also known as courgettes or baby marrows) and eggplants (brinjals) fit the bill. The main thing to know is that you need them to have finished producing before the first frosts hit – so there’s still time to get a piece of the action.
Before you say “Ho Hum. Seen that. Done that,” let’s get you sitting up and taking notice. There are some really unusual and interesting varieties of both these crops. They’re not mainstream, but they’re oh-so-delicious and worth a try besides giving you tons of eye candy to enjoy thanks to their interesting forms and colours.
So, let’s jump right in and take a closer look at the two summer crops you absolutely have to grow this year and the interesting variations on the theme that we’ve shopped the world to uncover.
Eggplant Fruits Don’t Have to be Black – But they Can Be
Glossy black brinjals like Black Beauty are the classic that everyone knows, and there’s no denying that they’re as beautiful to look at as they can be delicious to eat. But this proven winner, lovely as it is, isn’t your only option. The diverse world of plants has a few surprises up its sleeve for you. We have no fewer than eight handpicked eggplant varieties on offer at Seeds of Plenty, and we think that you’ll be as excited to have them as we are!
Perhaps the appropriately-named Galaxy of Stars eggplant with its “shooting star” colours and markings is the most beautiful of all eggplant varieties. But there is no shortage of contenders, both in form and in colour.
There’s yet another contender in the most beautiful brinjal stakes. She’s a little less flamboyant, but the purple-violet blush of Rosa Bianco is a delicate symphony of colour that you’ll like looking at at least as much as you’ll enjoy eating.
Practicality may interest you more than colour, and in that case, we highly recommend the sausage-shaped Long Purple and Thai Long Green. Why? It’s an easy call. When it comes to easy slicing, that shape is the ideal. Cutting relatively uniform brinjal rounds also makes for a nice aesthetic besides making it easy to layer them into veggie bakes.
On the other side of the coin, we also have round brinjals with no neck to speak of. Thai Long Green, Applegreen, and Oriental White are the varieties of the heritage favourites that we currently stock. These cute eggplant varieties are known for their tender texture and quick cooking, plus they’re authentic ingredients in oriental cuisine – and for those reasons, they’re quite sought after in the veggie-growing world. Try them and tell us what you think.
Zucchini: So Quick to Grow and So Many Great Varieties
At this point, I’m going to wax lyrical. I LOVE growing zucchini. They don’t need a lot of space, they’re relatively trouble-free, and I absolutely love the flavour. One of the cool things about them is that you can decide if you’re going to pick them at the “baby marrow” stage, or let them develop into full-blown marrows. Believe me, the latter can get pretty big and still taste tender and delicious. I like halving them and hollowing out the seed-filled core to be replaced with a stuffing. Pop it in the oven and wait for the veggie yummies!
Moving away from personal bias, let’s take a look at the awesome zucchini varieties Seeds of Plenty has tracked down for you. OK, so I love them all too, but at least I love them all equally!
Black Beauty (yes, same name as the classic eggplant) is probably the one you’ll most often see on supermarket shelves. The white-streaked Cocozelle is another market garden favourite, and you might even see the pale, silvery -green Lebanese on fresh produce shelves now and then. But if you’re into freaky and colourful veg, there’s nothing to beat Golden Crookneck. It’s more gold than yellow and the shape is reminiscent of that of an ornamental gourd.
Romanesco zucchini is worth a special mention. It isn’t a heavy harvester, but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality and flavour. Try this traditional favourite and you’ll never look back.
Zucchini and Eggplant Have Easy Cultivation in Common
In case it’s just me who has never had any serious pest problems on eggplant and zucchini, I gave this a quick google search. Seems like everyone has a relatively easy time with these crops. Beetles may go for eggplant leaves, and aphids may decide to latch onto zucchini plants, but neither of these problems need be serious if you’re an observant gardener.
Organic pest control methods work a treat with both these pests. Our Chilli and Garlic kitchen concoction (recipe in a previous post) is great for keeping beetles away from plants, and plain soapy water is usually good enough for controlling aphids.
Whether you’re a veteran grower or a beginner, you’re likely to have success with eggplants and zucchini – I can vouch for easy seed germination and no-tricks needed growth. One tip worth mentioning is that you’ll need to keep an eye on your zucchini if you want baby marrows. Those fruits develop fast – you can almost see them growing – and I’m not kidding. A couple of days is all it takes to make a baby marrow a marrow. But the big ones are still yummy, so you may even decide to let them go that way anyway.
Season’s Changing Soon – Get Going if You Want to Grow These Yummies
At Christmas time, we pass midsummer, and after that, days start getting shorter as we head towards autumn. Although summer might sometimes feel like lasting forever, it doesn’t. So if you’re up for these summer crops, the time is now.
What are you hoping to get a last blast out of before the season changes? Share your thoughts before I fill my available space with eggplants and zucchini!