Green Kids on the Block-Grow Your Own Eggs for Easter

easter_egg_plantLooking for a fun activity that will get the kids interested in gardening, then consider growing your own eggs.  While eggs really do not come from plants, the Solanum melongena var. is a type of eggplant that produces egg-shaped fruit and is also known as the Easter Egg Plant.

This plant is easy to grow and can produce fruit for two years if taken care of properly.

To begin the process, one must first get the seeds.  Many seed catalogues carry this variety of eggplant.  Other sources for this seed include horticulture supply stores.  Once you have the seed, you will need a container.  One choice is a Greenhouse Seed Tray or a 6-inch container.  Regardless of which you choose, do not forget to clean the container.  This is simply done by soaking the container in a bucket of water that contains a capful of bleach.  Scrub to remove any dirt, rinse in clean water and place in the sun to completely dry.

After the container has dried, the next step is to choose a planting medium.  If you are using the Greenhouse Seed Tray, simply fill with an all-purpose potting soil medium using Outdora’s DeWit Dutch Trowel.  If you are using a container, then consider using a soil pellet.  This type of soil medium is soaked in about 1/3 cup of water for about 15 minutes.  After that time, the pellet is broken up and used like soil.

Regardless of which planting method you opt for, the next step is the planting process.  The seeds of the Solanum melongena var. are small and require a unique planting method.  This method starts with the gardener sprinkling the seed on top of the soil’s surface.  Next, take a pencil and gently push down on each seed so that the seed makes direct contact with the soil.  Once this is done, gently spray the soil surface until the planting medium is thoroughly moist but not wet.

Place the seeds in a room that is kept between 65 and 80 degrees F.  There is no need to place them in directly sunlight at this point.  In 5 to 14 days, the seeds will begin to germinate.  At this point, move the container to a sunny location while constantly monitoring the soil moisture.

When the seedlings are about 2 inches in height, you can then transplant them into individual pots.  This plant can go outside once the weather warms but before you move them outside make sure to harden off them off.

Hardening off plants is a process by which plants are gradually exposed to the outside environment.  This is done about 2 weeks prior to ones local frost-free date.  The process begins by placing the plants under a tree for a few hours in the beginning.  The plants are then moved to a sunny location after the first week but do this gradually.  Plants should be exposed to sunlight only for a few hours in the beginning and then progress to 12 hours.

After the hardening off process is complete, make sure to place your plant in a bright, sunny location.  Every other week, apply a liquid fertilizer in combination with a sprinkling of Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate.

To prevent pest and moisture problems, place your pot on Cedar Plant Dolly.  To add a designer touch to your Easter Egg Plant, consider adding pots pads to the bottom of your container.  These Planter Pot Pads come in a wide assortment of colors, such as lime, cobalt, cherry or cocoa that will go perfectly with any outdoor color scheme.

Once the plant begins to bloom, it will not be long before the fruits begin to appear.  The “eggs” start out a glistening white and then turn a golden yellow when they mature.

To extend your “egg harvest”, bring your eggplant inside prior to a killing frost.  Place it in a well-light room with a lot of humidity.

Getting kids excited about gardening can be a challenge but with this project you can surprise your brood with an “eggceptional” garden project.

Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.

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