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Eggplant—garden beauties

As Jim becomes more experienced with vegetable gardening, he plants something new every spring. This year, he tried cantaloupe, poblano peppers, and eggplant. The cantaloupes have been delicious, and the poblanos are as perfect as fashion models, but the eggplants take top prize.

Compact ovals with flawless, glossy skin, they are the deep, luscious shade of purple-black known as aubergine, which is their European name. The fruit (yes, eggplants are fruit, actually berries) are capped with dainty, green crowns, worthy of an illustration in a children’s book. If Cicely Mary Barker didn’t write a poem about the Eggplant Fairy, she missed a great opportunity. By the way, there is a 4 inch-long, lavender and white-striped variety called “Fairy Tale.”

Also known as brinjals and melongenas, eggplants (Solanum melongena) are native to South Asia, where they grow wild as perennials. In North America, they are grown as warm season annuals since they prefer temperatures between 70° to 85°F...

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