Okra’s Last Hurrah

Amanda planted five different varieties of okra in the spring, and every one of them has had its moment in the sun during this growing season. We think it’s about the end of the season for okra, although we thought it would be finished by the end of September, and we were obviously wrong about that.

Our planting in April and May included Clemson spineless (your basic Alabama go-to okra), as well as Hill Country heirloom red, ever tender, Alabama red, and Cajun jewel. The two reds were the slowest to develop; I can remember Amanda’s despairing in June about whether they would EVER amount to anything. Here in the end of the season, they have soared to prominence, outshining if not out-producing all their green brothers EXCEPT the Cajun jewel, which just keeps pumping it out. The reds tend to the short and fat pods, and the greens tend to be longer and more slender. None of them can stay tender for long on the vine (pay no attention to that “ever tender” stuff; it hardens up just like any other okra if left unpicked for too long).

Our solution to the problem is the same as everyone else’s: keep it well-picked. Okra’s one of those crops you will love most when you’re able to check it every day. We see the beginnings of a pod in the morning, and by late afternoon it’s ready to cook. By day after tomorrow it will be too tough to eat. That’s just the way okra is.

tall-okra-for-blogHere you see Amanda and our daughter (and podcast announcer) Adrian, harvesting a pod on one of the Alabama red okra plants. Gives you a good idea of the galloping height of the Alabama red, here in late October.

Amanda thinks she’ll probably trim our varieties down to three next year, Clemson spineless, Alabama red, and Cajun jewel. But we’ll probably allot more real estate to okra. It’s one of a handful of plants that kept producing through July and August when others simply hung there soaking up water and shuddering from the heat.

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