ichiban seeds or alternative

conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)June 21, 2014

Am I right in thinking that now the only way to get hold of an ichiban eggplant is to buy the starts from Bonnie? No seed dealers anymore?

I used to grow these and they're by far my favorite eggplant, but I won't buy Bonnie plants, for a variety of reasons. I tried the Millionaire that a lot of seed companies were touting as a replacement and found that wasn't in the same class at all--much less flavor and not as pleasant tasting. Right now I'm growing Ping Tun, and that's okay, just different.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a better alternative? How is Orient Express or Bride?

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farmerdill

Just about every major vendor sells Ichiban so it it very easy to find. Orient Express is good for an early. BUT it quits about the time main season eggplants are ready. Black Shine is almost as good as Ichiban. Fond May is a much lighter purple but good flavor and yield is competitive with Ichiban.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:16PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

Just about every major vendor sells Ichiban

Vendor of what? I certainly can't find the seeds anywhere but ebay or plants from anyone but Bonnie, since the Seminis buy out. Please point me to someone. Johnny, Park, TGS, Sandhill, Burpee, southern exposure, etc. sure don't have it anymore.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:20PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

Oh, and thanks for the suggestions. Maybe I'll give Fond May a try.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:21PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

I haven't been following the situation, but a couple of years ago, it was looking grim for Ichibans. See forum post below.

But I've had not trouble getting plants in the last two years, and it looks like seeds are still available, though the rumor is (see comments in this forum post) that the seeds being sold are old ones.

What's the latest on this? Ichibans are THE BEST.

Here is a link that might be useful: (alleged) discontinuation of Ichibans

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:43PM
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farmerdill

You are right. There are several e-bay sellers.and http://www.paseseeds.com/servlet/the-3707/vegetables,-vegetable-seed,-vegetable/Detail. Ichiban was a Seminis product( 1977) and they have apparently discontinued work with eggplants. They no longer list commercial eggplant and the home garden shop only has Hansel, Gretel and Fairytale. I have not grown it, but Japanese Long Purple is supposedly the OP alternative. http://www.amazon.com/Heirloom-Eggplant-Japanese-Long-Purple/dp/B004NXM3E6

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 8:17PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

Thanks, daninthedirt and farmerdill. Sigh. Well, at least I know it's not just that I'm missing it somewhere.

What a shame.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:09PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

OK, well, back to the original question. It sounds like Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale, and Japanese Long Purple are all some sorts of alternatives to Ichiban. Where can I get some comparison of these varieties? Growing conditions, taste, texture, toughness of skin, seediness, etc. I need to figure out what I'm going to do (perhaps next summer), when the regular Ichibans don't show up. I'd rather not just flip a coin.

So Gretel is dwarf white, Hansel is dwarf purple. They are brother and sister, I guess. Fairytale is sort of dwarf purple with white stripes. Are these all identical but just with different colors? Japanese Long Purple are, er, long? There must be a good discussion somewhere. What are the disadvantages of any of these compared to my beloved Ichibans?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:37PM
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farmerdill

Those three are relatively new, no comparison to Ichiban. When Ichiban was released it was compared to Japanese Long Purple. Gave the impression that it was a hybrid version. Appearance at least is very similar.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:58PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Farmerdill, you say Hansel, Gretel, and Fairytale are "no comparison to Ichiban". You mean you have no basis for comparison, or their quality is known to be inferior to Ichiban?

Yes, Japanese Long Purple looks, in the seed catalogs, to be most similar. But I'm curious in what ways it might be different.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:09PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

Most oriental eggplants have very thin skin, but I'm not sure that the finger types like Hansel, Gretel, fairytale are considered orientals. I only know one person who grew fairytale and it didn't produce well for her, but we all know how variable that can be.

Orient Express looks a little like ichiban, but then so does Millionaire, although millionaire sure doesn't taste like it. There are a couple of long white oriental eggplants which might be mild like ichiban, but I have no person experience with any of those. I know a few people who are fond of Louisiana Long Green who say that's the runner up to ichiban, but again, no personal experience here.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:13PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

And don't forget that you can still buy the plants from Bonnie if you really want ichiban. That may take you through another couple of seasons before they run out of seed.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:19PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Thanks. My understanding, by the way, is that Ichibans are indeed hybrids, so seed saving (I guess you wait until the fruit is inedible?) won't work.

Yes, thin, edible skin is of primary importance.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:27PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

>so seed saving (I guess you wait until the fruit is inedible?) won't work.

Right, unfortunately. I'm not sure after all this time, but I think the seed I got last time I could get any was labeled as an F1 hybrid.But it's my understanding that Bonnie buys seed in huge quantities so they can still be starting from seed they got from Seminis before. They have the facilities to store it long term, more than you or I would.

I have to say that the Ping Tung Long has nice thin skin. It's a nice eggplant, just a different sort of flavor than ichiban had. And I also liked the fact that ichiban was thick enough that you could use it for stuffing and cross sliced pieces. Ping Tung is kind of skinny for that.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:33PM
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farmerdill

Yes Ichiban is a hybrid. Seeds will be viable, but will probably revert back to the parent plants. Since it is a relatively old hybrid, it might not be the product of inbred lines. Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale are not oriental type. Small fruits and plants suited for container gardening. All are green calyx types. I have grown Slim Jim, but it is too small for my uses. Very prolific tho and it is an oriental type.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:22AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

OK, so Hansel, Gretel, and Fairytale aren't maybe what I'm after.

Slim Jim, if 4-6 inch fruit, is a bit small, but not bad. I see one reference to it that calls it out at 10 inch fruit, though! Louisiana Long Green look OK, but I think I'm not partial to green fruit. Japanese Long Purple might do it, but the 24-30 inch plant size seems way small. As does Pingtung Long. The Slim Jim plants are larger. I put my Ichibans on medium tomato wire frames (about 3 feet high), and it's perfect. So those with the smaller fruit have the larger plant?

Interestingly, these are ALL heirloom.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 4:52PM
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conchitaFL(10 Hutchinson Island)

I have to say that Ping Tung has been pretty prolific for me. No complaints about production, and it loves the heat and humidity. EDIT I grow in earthboxes and all the eggplants I've tried grow well; it's just a question of finding varieties I really like.

I just want my ichiban, darn it.

This post was edited by conchitaFL on Sun, Jun 22, 14 at 16:58

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 4:56PM
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