Always my volunteering experience at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) provides learning opportunities and so it was last Thursday. I have never grown eggplants (Solanum melongena) nor looked at young plants so it was instructive to see and feel these.
I was surprised at their robustness. The stems were very firm and the leaves were strong. The size of the plants was also of interest – not the tinier specimens of other vegetables that were usually planted. Not everyone knows or eats eggplants.
If these vegetables are unfamiliar, I urge you to try one. In some countries this plant is known as an aubergine or a brinjal. The plump purple fruit, technically a berry, can be cooked into many different types of meals or as the common party dip ‘baba ghanoush’. But please note that the tubers, stems and leaves are toxic and should never be eaten: eggplants are part of the nightshade family which includes tomatoes and potatoes. Nevertheless the fruit is full of benefits about which you can read here. If you don’t have a recipe, browse here and here for a few ideas.
If you want to know how to grow these delectable veggies then read more here. In 2018 Gardening Australia produced a video which you can view here. In the RTBG Food Garden, an area which should not get much wind was cleared, fertilised and mulched and then the plants were dug in, before being watered. Around late February/early March next year we expect to harvest a wonderful crop.
Elsewhere in the Food Garden, on an increasingly hot day, basil was planted, straggling banana fronds were removed, soya beans were replanted, and we tackled more weeding in the tea ‘forest’ and across a number of other garden beds and patches.
The Food Garden is looking simply splendid and an increasing number of mainland visitors are making their way to Tasmania and then to the Gardens for an enchanting walk that passes all manner of wonderful healthy plants.