My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Eggplant Breeding Experiment

Neon Hybrid Eggplant
A few years ago I grew the really pretty pink Neon Hybrid Eggplant. I just loved the color and this photo does not do it justice. But it was a hybrid and I really would like to have a pretty pink open pollinated variety. One that comes true from seed each generation. So I'm working on breeding my own. I saved the seeds from the hybrid and this year I planted some.  I planted about 10 and they are growing in 2 gallon pots on my patio.

Eggplant #1
True to the genetic prediction, the resulting plants are roughly 50-50 white or purple. The purple ones are long and slender and the white ones are more globular.

Eggplant #2

Eggplant #3

I have numbered the plants according to the order they are setting their first fruits. I am also tracking their productivity separately.

Eggplant #4
Eggplant #5

Eggplant #6

Like most solanums eggplants are basically self pollinating, although I have a lot of bees, so some crossing could occur naturally, I"m not going to worry about it.

While there isn't very much variation in this generation the next generation should show a much greater diversity of size, color and shape.

Unless some of the others are more prolific, I will probably only save seed from #1 and #2, since they are the sturdiest and first fruiting. Next year then I will raise as many plants from each batch of seed as I possibly can, because the more I plant, the more likely I will get a pretty pink one.

Eggplant #7
Have you ever saved your own seed and developed your own type of plant?

I learned a lot about plant genetics and how to breed plants, the best methods of seed saving and a lot more from Carol Deppe's book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. She tells you how in very simple layman's terms. I think every serious gardener should have a copy of this one!


  1. Hi Mary, That first Neon Hybrid Eggplant is pretty enough to be a flower! Nancy

    1. It's even prettier in person, it's a really bright fushia pink that does not show up well in the photo

  2. That's alot of eggplants! I only planted 4 this year but it's going to be more than needed as we eat very little of them. I like neon purple color - try checking into asian varieties that are naturally that color.

    1. I pick them fairly small as I don't want to deal with the seeds and they get more bitter as they get older. Besides if I get too many I can always sell them at the farmers market

  3. The Pink eggplant looks great, what fun breeding your own variety.........
    I collect as much seed as i can from healthy strong plants but never thought to breed my own.........

    1. It's pretty easy to get your own varieties of most things, Carols book has charts that show you how many plants you should save see from to get the best genetic diversity for each kind of plant. And these sorts of experiments are lots of fun. I'm also planning to let a patch of Rainbow carrots go to seed next spring and see what I get out of them.

  4. It looks like an even split between the two types that were probably the grandparents. But shouldn't it be 25% reverting to each grandparent and 50% a mix of a variety of pinks?

    1. That is what I expect in the next generation. About 25% of each of the original type plants and then 50% in various combinations. And of course I'm thinking that the pink is going to be a rare and recessive combination which means that it might show up in 1% or less of the population. Of course that's all I need is just one plant to save seeds from