Goodbye Aubergine

Always acknowledge when it is time to give up. And give up.

I’ve always wanted to grow Aubergines (US readers: that’s an ‘egg plant’), but I just can’t get them to a harvestable level.

I’ve been trying to grow Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ since 2011, pretty much every year but only got close that year, and again in 2017 (when I switched to Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2), but they just don’t give me any fruit bigger than a radish on a cold day.

Aubergine and Nasturtium plants in a wicker basket.
Aubergines in a wicker basket did well in 2011.

The plants are always healthy and their silvery green leaves are quite elegant, but years into trying, I’m going to stop.

Even 2017’s raised bed saw them grow well, but in the end they seemed to run out of steam. It’s not that I’m not sowing them early enough – I’m following the packet. I just don’t have a greenhouse, and have no plans to.

It’s important to know when to stop and move on.

What about the Tomatoes?

In 2017, after gales, baking sunshine, and waves of blackfly, I did get a bumper crop of Tomato ‘Minibel’ but I threw most of them away as they were turning faster than I could eat them.

The potted-on Tomato 'Minibel' seedlings.
Too many Tomatoes.

I only eat them in salads, and whilst their small red plump fruits were delicious and fresh, I just wasn’t able to keep up (not least because of the Courgette glutz).

I’ve decided that I probably won’t bother growing them in 2018, or if I do, it’ll just be a couple of plants.

Instead, I’ll try out some new produce instead – Turnips and Broad Bean are top of my ‘must grow, must eat’ list for the new year.

Squeezing a Squash into the propagator

I sow my first ever Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ seed, and there’s something odd in my Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2’ seed pots.

I’ve been enjoying using my spiralizer over the last few months, but so far i’ve only ever used it on courgettes (my one failed attempt on a carrot doesn’t count – too hard) to turn them into a far healthier option to spaghetti. I love making a stir fry, and so this option fits into my healthier lower-carb lifestyle.

However, I’ve been curious of trying a Squash, and so on Friday I caved whilst shopping for some more pots at Twentypence Garden Centre, and I ended up buying a pack of Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ seeds (let’s not talk about the toasted tea cake smothered in butter and a big pot of tea, okay?).

These can be sown now until mid-May indoors, or outdoors in late May.. so having picked up a mini propagator too, I had no excuse.

Filling a small pot with multi-purpose compost and adding just one seed (a second one might get sown yet), I sowed the seed on it’s edge – which is something the packet directed me to do. I’ve heard many other gardeners say this too for Squash and Courgette etc, in a bid to reduce the chances of these large flat seeds rotting.

To be honest, I’m already thinking ahead to being about to try something like another spaghetti alternative, or even something like this Au Gratin recipe. In a few months, all going well, it should look something like this:

I then gave it a little watering, and it’s now in my mini propagator alongside the three Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2’ seedlings.

One of those aubergine seedlings looks different though, and is curiously right in the corner of the pot. Has the seed not germinated, and a seed of something else made its home by chance? I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks.

Aubergine and Squash seedlings
The Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2’ seedlings, with the freshly sown Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ pot, and the what-are-you? seeding.

So, as I squeeze this pot into my propagator, I hope you are having a very happy long Spring weekend.

Happy gardening!


A ‘Goodbye’ gift that grows

I’ve received a great ‘goodbye’ gardening gift from the team at CBM, the overseas disability charity.

I’ve received a wonderful ‘goodbye’ gift recently from the team at CBM, the overseas disability charity, with whom i’d worked with for some time.

They clubbed together to get me a tubtrug packed with things for my garden – gardening gloves, a string container (with string!), some terracotta plant markers for Chives and Parsley, and a load of National Garden Centre Vouchers (they’ll come in very handy!). There’s also a little statue of a frog beside a stone with the words ‘Welcome to my garden’ engraved on it – made me chuckle – so that will be going into the garden once it begins to wake up.

Gardening Kit
The tubtrug with some of the gifts from CBM. Sadly by this time, the shortbread had been lost in action.

There’s also some Johnsons seeds to keep me busy in the next few months (I better sow them as I know they’re reading this now!)

  • Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2’
  • Parsley ‘Laura’
  • Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’
  • Chives
  • Tomato ‘Minibel’

As one of the team pointed out, I’m not allowed to visit them unless I’m carrying a box of fresh vegetables. No pressure there then!

Check out CBM’s work – they do some amazing work in some of the poorest countries of the world.