The end of the summer season is a time to take serious stock of what you grew this year, but sometimes it’s just all about the WOW.
These are the Sherwood Red okra plants that reached over 8 feet tall in my garden. They bore moderately well, with pods that started green and finally turned red when pretty large (6-7 inches long) at which point they were still tender enough to eat–and very tasty, too, with only a small amount of mucosity. (I learned somewhere that the best way to fry okra (okay, the second best way, but the best way without coating and deep-frying) is to make sure it’s dry when it goes into the pan, without even a drop of water combining with the oil. I cut mine into the size pieces I want and then pat them dry between dish towels. Much less gooey using this method.)
And yes, I could still pick from the tops of those plants, since the stems bent down nicely without snapping. It just took a little effort. Possibly they violated the height limitations of my community garden, but I bet they impressed my neighbors too.
Two of the vegetable crops I grew this year are known for loving the heat: okra and eggplant. I grow eggplant in pots on my deck, to avoid flea beetle infestation, and okra directly in the ground in my community garden plot. Both of them produced adequately over the summer. Now it’s fall; we’re having days in the 70s and nights in the 50s, and there are fewer hours of sunlight in the day. Time to pull the summer crops, right?
Except – boom! Both the okra and the eggplant are going gangbusters. More flowers, more fruits than in the hot summer months, by far.
So why aren’t these plants following the rulebook? Do they not know how to read? Or have the rules changed?
It’s a beautiful, early Saturday morning. Join me as I harvest some okra, won’t you? I have never grown okra before, so when a friend asked me how to harvest it, I had to do some research.
I’m glad that I did. Okra grows very quickly. In fact, it grows so quickly that its pods are ready to harvest only four to five days after you see the initial flower.
Okra needs to be harvested when it is four to five inches long. If you let it get any longer than that it becomes tough, woody and pretty much inedible.
So here we go with step by step instructions.
First, measure the okra to be sure that it’s at least four to five inches long. If you feel comfortable eyeballing it, be my guest, but I am no good at estimating. :o) This okra was exactly five inches from the base of the pod to the tip.
Using a sharp pair of garden shears, cut the okra from the stem about 1/4 of an inch below the pod base. Do not try to snap or break the okra from the stem. This can damage the main stem of the plant.
That’s it! Easy, right? And remember to get in the habit of harvesting your okra regularly. Harvesting the okra actually stimulates the plant into producing more pods.