Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh boy, it's Okra!

Oh boy, it’s Okra!
         Experimenting in the garden is a family pastime.  We try to plant new things each year.  This year we planted okra.  Now, I am an Ohio girl a.k.a. a NORTHERN girl who has never tasted okra.  I did not grow up eating Cajun food, or good Southern cooking, which included okra.  I have read about how to cook it and use it, but this will be the year that I try.
       However, I am writing to you today because I think that people should start to look at okra in another way.  It is beautiful!  According to the University of Illinois Extension website the plant is from the same plant family as hibiscus, hollyhock and Rose of Sharon.  Our plants grew to be approximately three-to-four feet high. The blossoms are off-white with scarlet veins.  It is a very “showy” plant with good structure and leaves. 

       Growing okra is like having my own sculpture garden.  The finial shaped pods reach toward the sun and provide a bulky contrast to the blooms.  The branches are thick and well-spaced, allowing you to see both the blooms and the vegetables.  I have always interspersed flowers and vegetables in my gardens.  We call it edible landscaping.   Rosalind Creasy coined that term and we love it!
       As sculptural as okra is, I plan to dry it for holiday arrangements.  The pods seem to be cracking open to disperse seeds so I am trying different methods.  Some pods are outside, drying in a shaded area.  Others are inside drying away from the sunlight. The pods I put in the dehydrator on a low temperature seem to be working the best.  They have not cracked and are holding their color and shape.  Once they are dried I plan on painting them for ornaments and garlands.  Maybe that will be a holiday blog?
Learn more about growing okra  at the links below and enjoy your own edible sculpture garden!

Learn more about okra:

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