Botanically speaking, this vegetable is a fruit and the fruit the plant produces is a berry. While grown as an annual in gardens in Chicago, eggplant is a tender perennial. This staple of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisean can be stuffed, baked, stewed and stir-fried.
Eggplant was once called mala insane (the mad apple or bad egg) and thought to be dangerous because it belongs to the nightshade family. It was introduced to the United States in the early 1800’s by third president, Thomas Jefferson who was an avid gardener.
The plant is native to India and has a long history of cultivation in southern and eastern Asia. Studying the numerous common names for eggplant gives you a glimpse of its introduction to different countries. The word eggplant is said to date to the British occupation of India, where the white egg-shaped fruits were commonly grown.
Where to Grow
Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks prior to the last frost. Transplant into the garden after danger of frost has passed. Eggplants are rather large plants and plants should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart in rows. Rows should be spaced 30 to 36 inches apart. Choose smaller varieties for container gardens and plant one plant per container.
“Japanese White Egg”
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