Today, I froze some okra for a challenge by The Untrained Housewife (don’t you just love that?). I’ll post a quick note on that later.
..and that reminded me that okra are pretty cool, but before this year, I had never actually seen them grow. I thought other folks might like to see how that goes. Big picture: Take a chance on okra!
This year, I took a chance and planted some okra. I figured we finally have southern summers, and besides, it would be cool to plant it. That was the extent of my thinking. I went out and got a packet of Seeds of Change okra (I’m not affiliated with any products, if I post a link, I like something for real). The packet said they were going to get to be about 5-7 feet tall, so I had my dear hubby whip up another raised bed box for them (eventually, I ended up throwing sweet potatoes, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes in the box…but that’s a story for another day).
At first, they grew dreadfully slow. I thought I did something wrong. Here is a photo after they have been growing for a month. They are the serrated edged leaves in the bottom and right area of the box.Just three weeks later, however, They were about 2 feet tall! I was happy just to see them alive since we had ran off on a vacation for the time between. We had heard that the weather had been hot and stormy here while we were out.
Here’s the real treat – the okra flower! This is the best kept secret in the garden, hidden like it is under those lush leaves. These flowers are just not done justice by my phone camera. The petals are creamy, and they have an orchid-like texture. The deep purple inside fades quickly to the outer ivory color. I LOVE these flowers. Even if you don’t like to eat okra, I’d suggest growing it just for the flowers! Give the pods away (or try to eat them). The flowers don’t last long, though. When they fall off, then the okra pod starts to grow.
In mid-August, they are about 5 feet tall. They produce continually. Be forewarned–the pods sorta sneak up on you. I’ll be out one day and not realize that any are ready…the next day, about two per plant are already almost beyond the size I want to harvest — you really want to harvest okra pods between 3″ and 6″ long – longer than 6″ and they can be tough. You can still eat them if they get too big, just boil them! Oh, yeah, the pods also kinda smell bad. It seems to go away when they are cooked!