Tag Archives: okra

Why failing to grow is a yield too

Back in Autumn 2015, I tried growing burgundy Okra from seed and a late winter planting. Fail. Not just me either, I shared some seedlings and no one had any luck. 

I tried again in Spring, again sharing the few that had germinated through the local community produce share. I’m hopeful of finding out whether others had luck, because… one of mine made it!!!

As long as I can keep the chickens out of this bed, I think this little okra will be ok.

Growing is about failing, and failing is learning, because failing puts the details in your face, and asks you scrutinise the situation right there in front of you.  ‘Why didn’t this work?’ 

Moving on from failure, also requires you to stand back and look at the bigger picture, looking for a pattern, a clue to the myriad of complex interactions that take place just to make one tiny thing happen. ‘What am I missing?’

You learn something about the universe in these observations, something a bit hard to explain, but this recent article about The physics of life in Nature magazine by Gabriel Popkin stirs up what I feel.

So get out there, get your hands dirty and fail, because when one seed grows you will treasure and value it more than anything you own. 

All I am saying, is give okra a chance.

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.

heirloom burgundy okra seeds
seeds of potential- heirloom burgundy okra seeds

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.