Leafhoppers, Echinacea, and Eggplant

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So far this season, I’ve planted onions, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers. The only plants missing for a true Mediterranean feast are eggplants. And there’s the rub. All my eggplants–no matter what variety–end up devoured by bugs.

Except Ophelia eggplants. One year, I ordered this “super seed” variety and had bushels of eggplants. So many, I ended up gifting friends.

Curious about why I can’t grow regular eggplant, I did some research. Turns out it’s  the same reason I can’t grow most hybrid echinacea–darn leafhoppers. I can grow plain, old Echinacea. Just not the bright-colored new varieties. Leafhoppers destroy them. 

To grow regular eggplants, I might have good luck controlling pests using floating row covers. A lot of work in windy Kansas.

And now for the Ophelia. It’s so amazing that when I tried to order plants–in February–all the sellers were sold out. Sheesh. Only one seller had them available and only as seeds.

Growing anything from seed takes a bit of doing. Needed are shelves, lights, seed-starter mix, trays, pots, transplant-mix, sometimes fertilizer. I add to that chamomile tea, which when added to water will prevent the nascent plants from “damping off.”

So here in the photo are my Ophelia eggplants, seeds planted in February and transplanted once. When the weather is consistently hovering around 75-80F, I’ll transplant them in the garden. And we’ll see.