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THE CHALLENGE OF GROWING TOO MUCH OKRA

Here in the Coastal Bend of Texas, it is hot, humid, and dry in mid-August. I thought the only vegetables growing this time of year would be the sweet potatoes that will be ready to dig in September and my three plantings of okra. However today, besides cutting a peck of okra, I also brought in 5 cucumbers that had been in hiding and 6 red/green jalapenos.

My wife just asked me to cut 2 of the jalapenos into narrow strips. She is pickling some small Star of David Okra and short Burgundy pods of okra with garlic and jalapenos in an old-fashioned half gallon jar.

In late March, I planted about 25’ of Cow Horn Okra from Willhite Seeds and ½ pack of Star of David Okra from Park Seed. I began gathering okra in May. The plants were from 8-14 feet tall before Hurricane Hanna curved or broke them over more into a horizonal disorganized pattern. It is a challenge to walk down, go around, pick up each stalk, and cut or break the pods off. I pick the okra every other day. Some pots grow faster than others, so some are too big or long and others are too hard. I will probably pull these stalks up in September. Otherwise, most would live until the cool weather of November.

I planted 14’ of Burgundy Okra from Willhite Seeds in May because the red okra seeds I ordered were delayed by the pandemic Covid 19 virus. I started cutting okra pods off in mid-July. The Bull Dog Red Okra I ordered from Park Seed last year maxed out at 6 feet. Some of these Burgundy Okra stalks are already 10 foot high. The Burgundy pods are a little more solid than the Cow Horn green pods, but both cook tender.

My third planting of okra was done in June to keep the grasses down that grow so well in the heat, and to make sure we had enough okra in case of a storm. This 20’ planting contains Burgundy Okra and the rest of the packet of Star of David Okra, which was developed in Israel. It’s 6-10’ stalks are now producing an abundance of healthy pods. Okra loves heat.

What do I do with all this okra? I give it away to the Spray-N- Grow staff, my church staff, friends, and people like the local postmaster who knows I send okra to my 102-year-old aunt in Roswell, NM. The restrictions of the pandemic have limited where I go to give a gift of okra.

We eat okra four times a week. I cut up the okra in cross sections, cut up rings of large ripe jumbo jalapenos, and my wife covers it in a cornmeal/flour mix with salt and pepper. She then fries it in hot corn oil. The red jalapenos are sweetened and flavored b the cooking as well as losing some of their capsaicin heat. My wife has also, microwaved it, grilled it, and roasted it using olive oil, salt, pepper, onions, other spices, and coating some of it with corn meal, plus slicing it for gumbo and stews. In 2 weeks, we will savor the pickled okra.

– Herman Green

9/4/2020    Garden Journals