Finally, an Ichiban replacement; Japanese type long, thin 10 inch fruits start early and don’t stop. Ichiban F1 was released in 1977 but is no longer available. Itwas a favorite because of it’s beautiful tall purple tinged plant plant. Diaryu has long black fruit with thin skin and a subtle sweetness which connects us with Ichiban. The calyx is deep purple which extends into the plant stems. Alas, Ichiban this may be as close to you as we get.
4-6 week plants are set into the garden in May after the soil warms since eggplant is a tropical crop and needs warmth. Cold and damp weather can set back their growth. A dozen plants will produce plenty of fruit from mid July until frost if the soil is rich and the irrigation is provided when the ground is dry. Plants are usually spaced 2-3 ft apart and can get quite large.
Start seed indoors in a flat or pots. Seeds are planted an inch apart. The seed needs 70°F temperature to germinate. Once germinated, seedlings need plenty of direct sunlight. A windowsill with a south exposure is good, a greenhouse is better. Make sure that seedlings do not become leggy and weak which happens if there is too little light. Try setting them outside for a few hours a day when temperatures are above 50°F if you experience this problem.
Eggplants are versatile in the kitchen and will take up the flavors of stews or ragouts, tomatoes and cheese in parmesans, sauces and spices in asian stir-fry and indian dishes and my favorite, fried in olive oil after being dipped in egg and breadcrumbs. The well grown plants are decorative.
For saving seed, at the end of the summer allow the fruit to develop to full size and then over ripen. The skin will become dull and may begin to turn brown and decay. The seeds inside should be tan and ready to remove from the fruit by using your fingers to scrape from flesh under water. Dry on newspaper or in a strainer for a few days.