Aubergines in Love: Eggplantus Interruptus

| 2/3/2010 12:47:28 PM

Tags: Eggplant, Gardening,

A photo of Shannon SaiaThe past year has been rough for me and the eggplant. Here’s how it broke down.

In early April I’m out looking for a good gardening time, and I buy a fine looking specimen of Ichiban eggplant from a local box store. I know, I know, you don’t always meet the best quality plants in a big box store, but this plant was different. I mean, he was big. He was robust. He was gorgeous. We had chemistry. I put him in the garden, four feet away from anything else, because a fellow needs a little privacy. Still, there was trouble on the way. There were potatoes on the block. And his neighbor was a young Black Beauty zucchini, hatched out of an AeroGarden in my very own kitchen, the little traitor. She didn’t look like much when the two first became neighbors, but she grew. She burgeoned. And trust me when I tell you, she had tentacles. Sure enough, before too long, she and Ichiban get to talking.

In the meantime, I am so excited about how well my zucchini and cucumber seedlings turned out, that I decide to try something else. I study the photo on the front of a Hansel Eggplant seed packet. The fruit is trim and svelte. I can imagine myself setting him up in his own apartment, up on the deck, far from Ichiban, and visiting him on the side. Nothing serious, you understand. Just a fling. He promises to produce fruit that is sleek and manageable. So I sign the lease on the deck pot and start the seeds.

The first week of May, Hansel’s seeds begin to curl up out of the soil. They are delicate and lovely. With their arched necks, they look like swans. I think I’m falling in love with Hansel. I didn’t see this coming at all.

A few weeks later I thin the Hansel seedlings. It is truly painful. I hate to do it. I had 3 in one pot and 4 in the other, now they are 2 and 1. It was awful, but necessary. After all, this isn’t just a fling anymore. A relationship takes work and sacrifice. It must be nurtured. It’s important that both partner’s needs be met, and there’s just not enough space and soil in these little starter pots to go around. Things are better now. Still, I cannot fathom that these slim little numbers with their tiny true leaves are ever going to look as big and strong and impressive as Ichiban.

In June I watch with anticipation as Ichiban begins to set fruit. At first it’s just a purple nub, then a knob, and then it begins to swell and expand. It’s glossy and breathtaking. It seems to gain inches a day. I’m planning our future together. The ratatouille. The parmesan. The fritters. The rollatini. I’m ambitious. I’m optimistic.

ben dicosta
7/28/2010 5:49:10 AM

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2/4/2010 6:18:09 PM

What a wonderfully told tale! I laughed outloud. Thanks for the great writing.

s.m.r. saia
2/4/2010 2:20:14 PM

Thanks for all the commiserations!!!!!

cindy murphy
2/4/2010 2:13:42 PM

Ahhh....this is why they call them "hot houses" and "garden beds", isn't it. What better places to culivate love affairs...even if it's sometimes a one-sided doomed rlationship. Love the story, Shannon!

2/3/2010 9:33:53 PM

Shannon, I like Nebraska Dave believe you ought to just let go of those hurt feelings with Hansel. Just shake it off and go on! Like those two floods on had last summer -it makes me shudder everytime I think of them. Really though Isn't it great that spring comes again and we can enjoy a new start to our garden --thank goodness! vickie

nebraska dave
2/3/2010 7:37:25 PM

Shannon, I’m so sorry about the relationship issues of last year. Breaking up can be so difficult with the first love loss so fresh on your mind. Maybe you should start an eggplant broken relationship support group as I’m sure there are others that could share your pain. I too have gently laid plant losses to rest in the compost pile of eternity. My only redeeming comforting thought was to believe that those plants would live on through the feeding of the next generation by becoming the best compost possible. I know the separation anxiety must have at times almost overcome you with grief. You should know that time is a great healer and Spring with it’s fresh new possible egglets sprouting up can again capture your heart and ease the pain of forgetting. It’s OK to let go of those feelings and let the new egglets into you new garden. Each is unique in their own way and none of the new egglets can replace the memories of Ichiban and Hansel. I know it will be hard but, Shannon, it’s time to move on. Life can have it’s cruel moments but I know you will be a strong person and be able to get through this. Ok, I better get out of this. I hope you know, Shannon, that I’m just having fun with your blog entry. I loved the way you spun the story. It made me chuckle and even laugh out loud at times. You have a great knack for telling a good story and I anticipate your next blog entry.

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