Ever the optimist, I’m giving growing okra another try. To me, they are enchanting pods with magical qualities, but others say they are slimy and horrible and evil with no redeeming personality. So, what makes these star-shaped pods the Jekyl & Hyde of the food world? After encountering less than fresh pods, I can see where this bad boy reputation comes from. Okra really has to be freshly picked, regardless of how you intend to consume it. Even if buying from a market, it still isn’t that ideal. This is why it is so great to grow at home, and why I’ll persevere until I can work out how to make this plant happy.
I’ve tried growing okra twice without much success, and I was far more excited than I should probably admit when I stumbled upon heirloom burgundy okra seeds recently.
Okra are annuals, but in our mild winters, I thought it worth trying an autumn sowing, and treating them like a perennial, particularly as I am now frost free in our location. Then I’ll try again in the Spring – around August/September.
All of my autumn seeds germinated, and I’ve now planted them out into my raised beds, as protected as possible.
Here’s a little info on various ways to cook with these enchanting little pods. They exhibit magical thickening qualities in soups and stews and curries, you can roast them and they have stunning hibiscus like flowers. You can even munch the pods raw which is top of my list as their beautiful red heirloom bloom would be stunning with the green of mizuna leaves I think.
If you are keen to grow and wondering what they look like in the garden, they can grow quite tall, so plan for a bit of space. They are also easy to save seeds from, so particularly if you are growing heirloom okra, make sure you share the okra love around.
So if you have formed a negative opinion of okra, go on…open your mind a little bit. Rethink. Unlearn.
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