Eggplant in Edmonton

Here’s what I can tell you about growing eggplant in Edmonton: It’s not easy.

You need heat and lots of it. And water. But not too much water.
I grow my eggplants adjacent to the south-facing wall of my house in a well drained flowerbed. They get all the heat they can handle, but they also are prone to drying out. This means I have to water regularly, but not so much that they become saturated. In other words, they need pampering.
I’ve been successful in two of the three years I’ve attempted eggplant from seed, and the one year I failed was because the seedlings dried out while I was away on a short trip.
I’ve tried growing them elsewhere in the yard but they don’t get enough heat to mature in the short season we have here in zone 3.
This is one of my Eggplant Hansel which I grew from seeds I bought from T and T in Winnipeg.
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Ratatouille’s Ratatouille

Smitten Kitchen has a great recipe for ratatouille that I’ve shared before but I really think I should share again. This is the genuine ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille.

Before the oven
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After baking…mmmm
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This is not your mother’s stew-like concoction. Instead of chopping up cubes of vegetables and combining them in a pot, you layer thin slices of eggplant, red pepper, zucchini and other squash atop a tomato sauce laden with chopped onion and garlic. It is soooo good.

I like to serve it on pasta or rice, but its equally delicious on its own and makes a great fall supper.

Early start to the veggie garden for 2013

image This spring has been very unusual here in my zone 3 yard. During the last week of April we were inundated with snow and cold – ok maybe that’s not terribly unusual for Alberta. But on May 6th we set a new record high of 31C (that’s 88F my American friends). I brought out all of my seedlings to acclimate them and its too darn hot! I have to protect them in the shade for crying out loud. That’s just not normal.

image

The forecast says that the risk of frost in the next week is minimal, and Edmonton’s average last day of frost is May 12th, so I should be home free, right? Well, as much as I’d like to believe that I think I’ll wait another week before I transfer my seedlings to soil.

But the weather has been perfect for sowing my vegetable garden. Here’s what’s going in the dirt this week:

  • Corn: Fleet Bi-Color Hybrid
  • Squash: Spaghetti
  • Sunflower: Ruby
  • Zucchini: Raven
  • Spinach: Regal
  • Swiss Chard: Lucullus
  • Peas: Progress #9
  • Lettuce: Esmeralda
  • Lettuce: Buttercrunch
  • Carrots: Touchon
  • Carrots: Scarlet Nantes
  • Beet: Chioggia
  • Bean: TendergreenBush
  • Potatoes: Kennebec
  • Onion Set: White
  • Onion Set: Red

As far as seedlings go I’ve sown:

  • Tomato: Black from Tula
  • Tomato: Tumbler
  • Tomato: Mamma Mia
  • Pepper: Serano del Sol
  • Onion: Spanish Candy Hybrid
  • Cucumber: Spacemaster
  • Eggplant: Hansel
Seedlings in waiting

Seedlings in waiting

I have some winter lettuce that will be ready to eat long before the head lettuces. I think I’ll plant a second type of cucumber as well. My chives, lavender, mint and oregano have all returned and I have ample garlic coming up in more than one place. I’ve got parsley and cilantro seedlings started and I’ve bought some basil, thyme, rosemary and sage bedding plants.

Yippee! It’s spring!

Winner!

I took home five ribbons at the Edmonton Horticultural Society’s 2011 Bench Show.

Ok, I admit that virtually everybody goes home with some ribbons, but I was particularly proud of having won a first place red ribbon for my eggplant Hansel and a second place blue for my Nantes Coreless carrots.

I also won a first prize ribbon for my photo of a small garden gremlin. The photo was entered in the “Garden Gnome” category. Here is the winning photo:

Gremlin in Repose

Ratatouille

Ratatouille (before the oven)

I love ratatouille – the combination of flavors is amazing. I especially like to introduce it to people whom have never tried it. I found this recipe for Ratatouille’s Ratatouille (from the movie) and I have made it several times. I use my own tomato sauce if I have some on hand – I make it with plenty of garlic, oregano, thyme and basil simmered for several hours to make a nice thick rich sauce. A good quality tomato puree is a fine substitute if you don’t have any homemade tomato sauce.

This year I can proudly say that I grew my own eggplant from seed. I planted Hansel (from T & T Seeds) and although I had great germination, only one of my plants produced flowers – the one against a warm south-facing wall with plenty of heat. It was purely an accident that I planted one there in my flowerbed – I did it because I had one leftover plant and I thought “what the heck”. Now I know that if I want eggplants to flower they need a cart load of heat.

My Eggplant Hansel