August veggie babies

I am such an expectant parent when my plants start budding. In the case of fruiting plants, I tend to watch the flowers like a hawk, hoping that pollination will be successful and that I’ll see tiny fruits developing before my eyes. Unfortunately, watching the plants so closely seems to make them shy, and often, nature takes its course when I’m elsewhere.

Our first brinjal fruit developing!

Such was the case with my aubergine plants. Not knowing which conditions would suit them, I dispersed plants in several locations in the garden. So far, I’ve found caterpillars, grasshoppers, whiteflies, mealy bugs and a ladybug on them. And each time they bloomed, the flowers would abort. So, one fine day, I went to check the plants, and noticed that the stalk and receptacle (base of the stem) of one flower looked different. They had thickened and looked shiny, and the flower petals had dropped off. The sepals (green leafy things on the edge of the receptacle) had lengthened and closed, almost shyly. I crossed my fingers and watched this for a couple of days before, finally, the rounded bottom of a growing fruit started protruding from behind the closed sepals. Ladies and gentlemen, our first eggplant fruit is growing!

The first angled loofah - 3 days old and 9cm long!

Our next story is of the angled loofah. This plant was nurtured for about 4 weeks before being planted out at a trellis. It was already about a metre high at the time. Conditions were optimal for it and within a week, it had produced bunches of male flower buds. These buds open one or two at a time, so the bunch lasts for several days. Almost 2 weeks after being planted out, the first female flower matured. Angled loofah flowers bloom in the evening and stay open till sometime in the night. I’d like to say I took a moonlit stroll to see them, but there was no moon out that night. No, it was by torchlight that I plucked one of the pair of male flowers blooming then, removed the petals, and hand-pollinated the female flower. It’s possible that I need not have done anything, because there was an ant investigating the female flower – but who knows whether it had visited a male flower beforehand? Whatever the case, the female flower has kept growing – rather, the petals fell off, but the fruit has been getting a little bigger – so I believe I can announce our first ketola of 2011!

Young okra growing!

We’ve had okra plants growing for some time, but since we’re talking about veggie babies, I’m giving them some of the spotlight, too. Ladies Fingers (as okra are also called) are a favourite on our dining table. Freshly harvested fruits are tender and sweet, and I’m making an effort to do successive planting so that we have a continuous supply of this vegetable. I also recently acquired seeds for a burgundy version of the okra, and am intensely curious to see the grown fruits. In the meantime, though, the regular green okra will continue to make us happy.

Perhaps, one of these days, the winged bean plant will finally set fruit and I will have the satisfaction of sharing the news with you…

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August veggie babies — 8 Comments

  1. Where did you buy the seeds ?
    I am looking for a supplier of flower and vegetable seeds suitable for the climate in the north of Vietnam – hot and sticky !

    • Hi Mike,
      They sell small packets of seeds at various places here – I got mine from supermarket outlets and plant nurseries. Some of my seeds also came from overseas as people who know me know that I love getting seeds to plant. I also trade with other gardeners, as sometimes, there are many more seeds in the packets than we’d be able to plant. What are you looking for? Maybe I can help.

  2. Hi CG
    I handpollinate my aubergines – coz nature might not happen. I use a cotton bud, look for the flowers with both the yellow parts and the stamen with green tip, and then I swirl the cotton bud around. You can use a small paintbrush too. I have had lots of success with this, so you might feel like trying this.

    Your angled loofa looks promising!

    The burgundy okra turns dark green when cooked – so if you plant a mix of green and burgundy okras, your dish will have dark and light green okras. Quite nice to look at. :)

    Good work!

    • Thanks for the hand-pollinating advice, NG! I’m having so much fun watching the first aubergine baby grow. It would be the right thing to give it some siblings to keep it company, wouldn’t it? :) I think there is a second flower on the same plant that may form into a fruit. I have my fingers crossed!

      The angled loofah is also growing at a rapid rate. I was expecting more fruits to start forming but dastardly caterpillars have struck and have been eating the flower buds :( Anyway at least the first fruit is still growing.

      Is there any risk of cross-pollination between the okra plants if you plant them so close together? I actually placed them quite far apart to avoid possible cross-pollination. I absolutely love the colouring of the burgundy plants. They remind me of the roselle plants, which I also love!

      • It’s never occurred to me about cross pollination! Maybe that’s why one or two of my burgundy okras have tinges of green! Hmm. I thought they were like ‘albino’ – not enough pigment reaching or something :) Still tastes good though! Maybe you can do some deliberate cross pollination and see what happens!

        • Maybe I will experiment – but after I’ve tried the originals! I usually like the first round of planting to be the standard that I’ll measure subsequent plantings by. And like I said, I’m soooooo curious about the burgundy okras!