The Art of Eggplant
Go figure, but lately my daughter has developed a taste for eggplant. Studying the details of growing strong plants has been enlightening, and hopefully will pay off with a robust crop. On North Carolina State University's Eggplant page I learned that best germination is at 85 degrees! Critical windows for supplemental water and fertilizer are detailed on Clemson University's Home and Garden Information Center.
Favorite or New Plant
The big news in purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) is that they've gone orange in the new variety called 'Art's Pride'. Why does this make me wince? I love purple coneflowers for what they are -- valid medicinal plants that also happen to be beautiful. In our region, the plants are at their best when grown in partial shade, in rich soil that's been amended with lime if needed to raise the pH to near neutral. Last summer, in the perennial garden at the University of Georgia, the 'Ruby Giant' variety stayed in bloom for 23 weeks! Ruby's the right color, too: a rich mauve with an eye that looks orange because of the bristle-like tips in the cones.