Eggplants are versatile, tasty, and easy-to-grow vegetables for the home gardener. Popular in several types of cuisine, there are many varieties from which to choose. For your garden’s next eggplant, Orient Express is a fun type to try. It has some properties that makes it both easier to grow and easier to enjoy in the kitchen.
What are Orient Express Eggplants?
Orient Express is an Asian variety of eggplant known as Solanum melongena. It is a dependable, high-yield type of eggplant with pretty, deep purple-black fruits with a delicate skin. They are longer and narrower than typical eggplants.
For cooking, the Orient Express Asian eggplant is desirable for its light flavor and thin skin. Because it is narrow, only about 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4 to 6 cm.) in diameter, it doesn’t take long to cook. And with the thinner skin, there is no need to peel before eating. As with other types of eggplant, you can enjoy this one grilled, roasted, fried, and in most any cooked vegetable dish or casserole.
Growing Orient Express Eggplants
Orient Express is an early variety of eggplant, but it is actually even earlier than other early types. Expect your eggplants to be ready up to two weeks sooner than other varieties. If you want a steady supply of eggplant from the garden, this is a good choice to get the season and the harvest started. You can also rely on this variety to set fruit even if weather is chilly or unusually hot.
Another important piece of Orient Express eggplant information you need before you plan on growing it is that the seeds can take longer to germinate than you might expect. Allow extra time when starting with seeds and make sure the soil is warm enough, between 80- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 32 Celsius).
Your Orient Express plants will do best in soil that is fertile and slightly acidic, and that drains well. Start seeds inside and move transplants outdoors after the last frost. Eggplants can be tender, so it helps to harden them a little before moving outdoors. If you have a cooler part of the home you can transition them to before going outside, do so.
Once your eggplants are thriving outdoors, keep them watered regularly, prune and stake as needed and get ready for a big, early harvest.