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What can I say about okra? Born on Long Island in New York,
I wasn't very familiar with the plant but I did try to raise it as a
curiosity over the years. Mostly, with limited success.
This past summer I planted a mix of maybe 12 varieties including old
standards, exotic asian kinds, heirlooms and a few of the new F1 hybrid
cultivars thinking that maybe one of these would excel and produce for
me. We had a summer of record setting high temperatures here on
Long Island, our summer just went on and on. You may call it
global warming; I call 2007, my summer of okra.
Okra hails from tropical Africa and it doesn't take kindly to
cold soil. Germanation can be sporadic in cold soils. One
of the right things that I did this season is hold off planting the
seed until June. By that time I had my drip system going (using
inexpensive t-tape) and the seeds sprouted well with enough
moisture. The plants grew and grew to about wasit high and
looking a lot like a hedge before they were finally cut down by
frost. I like okra. It has an exotic look with the big
leaves and pretty mallow flowers. The pods mature fast and one
has to pay close attention to harvesting the pods within a few days of
flowering in order to enjoy eating the pods when tender. Indeed,
gumbo type soups and stews were a nice way of consuming the fruits that
just kept on coming. The okra fruit fiber, both soluable and
rough is considered to be of great benefit in cholesterol control and
intestinal health. When the pods mature fully and turn brown they
are ready for harvest. They make a very nice dried arrangement
and when thoroughly dry, the capsules easily are shredded open by hand
and the seeds fall out.
Okra crosses with bee activity and I am counting on that. I am
anxious to see what new mother nature's hybrids have been
produced. I know that this okra patch is well on the road to
greatness or at least on the road to producing my own garden adapted
okras. If you are saving a treasured variety and want to maintain
purity then make sure to plant the one kind of okra or bag the
self-pollinated blossom before it opens and exclude insects until the
bloom is finished.