If you haven't grown eggplant before you probably don't know that the flowers boast the same unusual color as their glossy fruit. Eggplant flowers are the most beautiful of all bushy vegetables, deep lavender with a bright yellow middle.

This vegetable is an acquired taste for many people, a little too overpowering in stews, bitter if not processed properly, and a notorious oil sponge. I am curious to know how many people grow it not for its wonderful nutritional value, but for the very sophisticated looks of its shiny purple fruit. The small fruited variety is actually grown in pots as a decorative plant. I find myself drawn to it even in the fruit and vegetable isle at the grocery store, despite the fact that it is not a family favorite and tends to get moved around in the crisper until all the other veggies have gone into the pot.

Eggplant takes a long summer to bear fruit, 100 to 150 days to harvest if you start it from seed. A native of India, the plant is very sensitive to cold. You can't start it before every possibility of frost is gone and it needs full sun and consistent 80 to 90 degree temperatures and a relatively dry soil to yield a good harvest. It seems I picked the right year to plant it in the garden.

I am not as eager to prepare eggplants as I am to see them thrive in my garden. Growing tomatoes is easy, but growing eggplants tests a vegetable gardener's patience and skill.

Starting them indoors, protecting them in a cold frame for a while, watching for diseases and Colorado beetles, waiting for months to see flower receptacles starting to swell - a total pain in the neck. Watching the shiny, smooth, perfectly sophisticated purple fruit - priceless.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.