The Eggplant Chronicles I: choose your plant

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For the last couple of years I’ve rolled my eyes over the phenomenon of grafted vegetable plants, and griped lustily that there is nothing difficult about growing tomatoes or eggplants, so why would anybody  fall for the grafted ones? Then I saw a picture of the extremely deep rootball that the grafted rootstock develops and began to ponder whether this might be really advantageous in my very hot dry area. So this year I tested two grafted eggplants, one Millionaire ( a Japanese-type eggplant) and one Black King. I planted several standard Millionaire and Ichiban plants for comparison.

So far, the grafted Millionaire is out-producing the ungrafted Japanese eggplants at a rate of three to one. I don’t know how well you can see them in the picture above but the plant currently has five eggplants in various stages and is covered with blossoms further up. This one plant would have been plenty for us. The Black King seems sturdier than large eggplants I’ve grown in the past and is holding its enormous fruit without flopping.
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So I will be planting grafted eggplants again. They cost just about twice as much as the ungrafted plants that I bought from a good local grower, but they are producing three times as much eggplant in less space. The two grafted tomatoes that I tried don’t seem to be outdoing their nongrafted kin at this point, but the jury’s still out. Also, one growing season isn’t a true test. But I’ve seen enough to be intrigued.
There are a lot of kinds of eggplant. The only types that I grow these days are the resplendent big Italian types and the long slender Japanese types. My preference is for meaty eggplants from which I can carve out big luxurious eggplant steaks. If your cookery leans Asian, you may be interested in the tiny bitter Thai eggplants and the dozens of other Asian types.
By the way, eggplants are highly ornamental at nearly every stage of growth. No need to stick them in the back yard.

3 responses to this post.

  1. I’m looking into grafting myself. The breed of eggplant they use for grafting onto I’ve read is commonly called cocroachberry (I presume because you can’t kill it?), and makes marble sized orange fruit.
    I’m looking more into grafting tomatoes though. I’ve got a bag of little plastic clips used to hold the graft together, I just need the seed for root stock now, which last I heard is a full dollar per seed.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Reply

  2. Posted by wooddogs3 on July 29, 2015 at 11:19 am

    If you try it, please do a post about it. I was very impressed with the results in eggplants. So far, I can’t readily tell the difference between the grafted and ungrafted tomatoes, but I got all my tomato plants in late, so there may yet be surprises in store.

    Reply

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