Okra Coming Out My Ears!!

by Rochelle Greayer

in Eating + Drinking, How To, Plants

harvested okra from ~hmmm~

image by ~hmmm~

The best laid plans of mice and men….the story of my garden. Yes, I suggest that no plan is fool-proof and no one can be completely prepared for the future. This year we had plans of overly abundant tomatoes (planting more than 30 plants) and lots of  little round ball shaped french zucchini but my garden was repeatedly ravaged by small animals of various sorts, heavy early rains and now tomato blight. Ugh! to it all….But it is bouncing back….some things better than others, but we won’t be making ketchup.
Every year I plant at least one thing in my veg garden that I have never grown before.  This year, I chose okra.  It is one of those things that I had no intention of success or idea of usage, I just threw the seeds in the ground to see what would happen. I am totally in awe of this plant and all the surprises it has brought to me.

Here is what I have learned this year in my okra adventure:

1) The seeds achieved 100% germination.

2) When faced with a garden full of seedlings, this is the last thing that animal invaders will eat…in fact, in my experience, they simply won’t eat it at all.  It is the only thing that remained untouched by munchers.

3) Ditto for bugs, slugs and grasshoppers.  Simply pristine foliage among a sea of holey leaves.

4) This plant is actually quite interesting (in a design sense)….the stems are sturdy and strong, the leaves are interesting and the flowers are just like hibiscus! I had no idea!

okra flower

Image from Manyu expo.

okra image

image from Food Museum.

So now I have two problems that I am dealing with. I have too much okra and being the novice grower, I have let many of them grow way to big. Seems that some cultures harvest the pods at about 1″ in length and others let them grow to 3-4 inches. I, however have okra that are nearing a foot in length.  I just didn’t know when to say when, until it was too late.  So I have been trying to sort out what to do with these monsters and have come up with some surprisingly fun ideas.
Large Okra Pods are often  dried and used in floral arrangements. I really like this wreath that prominently features the pods so I may string up a bunch in preparation for Christmas wreath making.

wreath with celosia and dried okra

image from A & M Growers.

I also think I might be able to entertain the kids for at least 20 minutes making okra stamped stationary, fabric or whatever.  I love this block print towel idea that Shilpa in India created.

okra stamping craft

okra stamping craft

images by {shilpa}

And I am similarly obsessed with these vegetable images that Laura in Michigan created. So interestingly cool don’t you think? (though I have to admit NO inclination to to try and recreate myself.)
vegetable art cucumbers okra parsley and limes

vegetable art okra and parsley

vegetable art okra onions and limes

by hullaballoo2

Now I just have to figure what I am going to do with those normal sized okra that I am clearly going to be harvesting for a little while now…I am not a fan of too many fried foods and want to avoid the famed sliminess, so I am considering drying them for later use, which according to Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska,  spares you from the sliminess and gives you only the unique taste. (I may also try their Armenian Okra and Meat recipe)
Mostly though, I am excited to try this amazing looking okra curry that I found over at simply spicy.

simply spicy okra curry

Do you eat okra? Based on my experieces, I think they should be on all first time gardeners’ list of things to grow. They are ‘no fail’ — we just need a few good chefs to start singing their praises and exciting us with wonderful recipes. How about you any thoughts on okra? Have you grown it? Do you eat it? have a favorite recipe?