By: Teo Spengler
If you love gumbo, you may want to invite okra(Abelmoschus esculentus) into yourveggie garden. This member of the hibiscus family is a pretty plant, with showypurple and yellow blossoms that develop into tender pods. While one varietydominates the okra seed sales, you may also enjoy experimenting with othertypes of okra. Read on to learn about the different okra plants and tips on whichkinds of okra might work well in your garden.
You might not appreciate being called “spineless,” but it’s an attractive quality for okra plant varieties. The most popular of all the different okra plants is Clemson Spineless, one of the types of okra with very few spines on its pods and branches. The seeds for Clemson are fairly inexpensive and the plants are self-pollinating.
Several other okra plant varieties are also popular in this country. One that is especially attractive is called Burgundy okra. It has tall, wine-red stems that match the veining in the leaves. The pods are large, crimson and tender. The plant is very productive and gets to harvest in 65 days.
Jambalaya okra is equally productive, but one of the more compact kinds of okra. The pods are 5 inches (13 cm.) long and ready to harvest in 50 days. They are reputed to be excellent for canning.
Heritage okra plant varieties are those that have been around a long time. One of the heritage types of okra is called Star of David. It is from the Eastern Mediterranean; this okra grows taller than the gardener tending it. The purple leaves are attractive and the pods are ready for harvest in two months or so. Look out for the spines, however.
Other heirlooms include Cowhorn, growing to 8 feet (2.4 m.) tall. It takes three months for the 14-inch (36 cm.) pods to come to harvest. On the other end of the height spectrum, you’ll find the okra plant called Stubby. It only gets to just over 3 feet (.9 m.) tall and its pods are stubby. Harvest them when they are under 3 inches (7.6 cm.).
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Did you know okra is actually a fruit? Growing okra is surprisingly simple, and it’s a great addition to your cooking. We enjoy okra, or the lady’s finger, in many ways: raw, cooked, roasted, or pickled. However, despite looking quite similar to other green vegetables, the okra pods contain seeds that definitely categorize it as a fruit.
It may not have the sweetness of an apple, but okra sure has many fans across the world. If you fancy superfoods, okra is one of the best foods to enjoy. Enjoy a good break from kale and spinach, and spice up your salads with delicious raw okra.
Ladies’ finger plant has a long history. It was cultivated during the ancient Egyptian era that can be traced back to the 12th century BC. Okra seeds can be toasted and are often used as a coffee substitute. In the south, it’s an essential component to good Cajun cuisine.
We’ve got an abundance of information about this southern staple. Keep reading to learn more about this fruit and find out how to grow it in your garden!
Good Products For Growing Okra:
Horticulturalists at the University of California-Davis recommend the open-pollinated, highly productive A. esculentus “Clemson spineless” variety that accounts for 90 percent of commercially grown okra. "Clemson spineless" grows to 4 feet and and yields slightly grooved, dark green pods.
Horticulturalists at the University of Arkansas tested the yields of 10 commonly grown okra cultivars, recording their yield for four weeks after they matured. “Clemson spineless” matured in 55 days and yielded 3,989 pounds of pods per acre in 1 month. Tender, dark-green “Jade” pods matured in 56 days, producing 3,988 pounds of pods per acre in four weeks. The round pods of “Louisiana green velvet” are filled with seeds and matured in 56 days, yielding 3,826 pounds of pods per acre in four weeks.