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EFN INTRODUCTION. Garden eggs are cherished staple vegetables in West Africa, rivaling peppers and tomatoes in popularity, and demonstrating a wide range of diversity in size, shape, color, form, and flavor. This variety comes from the Upper Volta region of Ghana. Half of a dried fruit was given to EFN co-founder Nate Kleinman by an attendee at a winter conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey by a man who had received the seeds from a Ghanaian friend. Nate was told that they have been grown in New Jersey for over a decade, and we've found it quite well-adapted to our climate, producing fruit around the same time as the average eggplant.
Most varieties of garden eggs are rather bitter — African people generally appreciate bitter flavors much more than Americans — but the fruits we've eaten from this variety weren't bitter at all, or perhaps just barely so. The fruit start out green, then become a pale green/white when full-sized (at their most edible stage), and then orange. They're still quite tasty at the orange stage, but the seeds are not very good (and may contain potentially harmful alkaloids) so they should be removed. People in West Africa use sometimes eat the leaves as well, after cooking, but we haven't tried them (it's likely they contain some alkaloids too). There are plenty of recipes available online for this species. A meaty stew made from garden eggs is apparently very popular. Seeds for a flat-fruited version of this plant are occasionally sold as "pumpkin-on-a-stick," and used in Halloween decorations, but those apparently don't taste so great. This variety is a somewhat diverse landrace, with some plants having flat fruits, and others more round and elongated. Its brilliant neon orange color is quite striking in the garden. We're very excited to be offering seeds for this cherished heirloom for the first time.
GROWING TIPS: Start as you would an eggplant or tomato, indoors or under glass a few weeks before first frost. Prefers full sun and rich soil. We've found the plants somewhat susceptible to flea beetle and blister beetle predation, so we recommend keeping an eye on leaves and treating with diatomaceous earth if necessary.