After last year’s okra adventures, when they all got completely smothered by the tomatillo plants, I had another go at it. This time, planting them in front.
I know I didn’t give last year’s okra (your standard Clemson Spineless) a fair shake, but I decided to try a new variety this year. Preferably in a different color, since I like my food to be pretty. After poring through a mountain of seed catalogs with dozens of potentials, I decided on Bowling Red okra.
Okra isn’t something we eat a lot of, and it’s really a plant that’s more suited to the South. Right, so why do I grow it? Well, I like variety on my plate, and an occasional gumbo is certainly well-liked. And it doesn’t take up much space since I only do a few plants – I suppose it’s more of a novelty than a hardcore production vegetable.
But even my novelties need to produce, and this Bowling Red okra did a decent job. Again, I have absolutely nothing to compare it to, and this summer was on the cool side of normal, so maybe it would do even better if we hit 90 a few more times. But we ended up with enough to eat fresh on several occasions, and I came up with a few bags’ worth to freeze too, so all in all, not too bad. The pods were long and slim and stayed tender for longer than I would expect, although with the last picking, some of them ended up pretty tough and woody (over 6-8″ long).
It really is a striking plant in the garden too – tall (mine ended up 4-5′), with large leaves accented by deep-red stems and veins, and beautiful, if short-lived, cream-yellow flowers with the same deep-red throats (okra is a relative of the hibiscus, which is readily apparent to anyone who has grown both).
I’ll probably continue to throw a few okra seeds in the ground, at least until I come up with something better to plant in that space. And I’ll probably continue to try new varieties, because that’s just what I do. Anyone have any good recommendations for a more Northern-suited okra?