Okra

With visions of fried okra dancing in my head, I planted seeds in the garden yesterday evening.  One of the sublime pleasures of the garden is fried okra, sliced, seasoned, rolled in corn meal, and fried in butter to a golden brown. Oh my.  My husband hasn’t had fried okra yet, and is kinda hesitant about the whole okra thing having only had canned okra from the store as a kid. Oh, what he’s been missing.

I always plant Clemson Spineless. Other varieties have little spines that get stuck in your fingers when you pick the pods.The seed package said to plant the seeds ¾ inch deep. So, using a hoe, I dug out a straight row between the onions.

Even though they are close to the onions, by the time the okra is growing up and out, the onions will be ready for harvest. Just trying to maximize our garden space, you know. The onions aren’t looking their best right now because the wind has been blowing on them at 40 miles per hour for the last 3 days.   I planted the seeds about 6 inches apart.

The seed package states that the plants should be 18 inches apart, so if all the seeds come up, I’ll have to do some thinning.  After the seeds were planted, I covered them, and then gave them a generous watering.  

Okra is a native to West Africa, possibly present day Ethiopia. By the 14th century it had made its way to the Mediterranean area, and is thought to have made it to North America via the slave trade in the early 18th century. It is one of the most heat and drought resistant vegetable species in the world.

The seeds will germinate in 12-14 days, and the plants will ultimately grow 3-4 feet tall. The blooms are yellow with a purple center, and look similar to hibiscus. Long narrow pods follow the blooms, and are harvested when they are 3-4 inches long.

Oh, I can’t wait. Sometime, hopefully in July, we’ll be enjoying fried okra. Bliss.

Have you ever eaten okra before, and if so, how do you like to cook it?

28 comments to Okra

  • Steve Mudge

    Down here in Fort Worth the okra gets 6 or 7 feet tall—it loves the blistering tropical summers. We prepare ours the same way you describe but with olive oil—the butter sounds better though! We also stir-fry them–the high heat keeps them from being too, eh, what’s the word, gooey. One day I brought some fresh okra to work to give away and a coworker grabbed one and ate it raw—so I gave it a try and its pretty good, different but easy to get used to.

    • Suzanne

      Hi Steve,
      Oh my! Seven foot tall okra. That’s a small tree. Never eaten okra raw, but will give it a try this year.
      Thanks for visitin’
      Suzanne

  • Fried is our favorite way but it’s good in a veggie stew. I don’t plant any in my small space but one of my sister-in-law’s always grows it and my neighbor tried growing some last year.

    • Suzanne

      Hi Gardener,
      Okra is a space hog, so if you can get it from your sister in law, that works too. It’s kinda like zucchini, if it is a good year for it, you’ll have some to give away.
      Thanks for visitin’
      Suzanne

  • It is SO exciting planting and growing okra! I grew it once in NC but there is not enough room here for it. I bet it is going to taste great!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Tina,
      Thanks for dropping by. Okra is like growing an annual tree line in your garden, so I haven’t grown it in years. I’m so excited!
      Suzanne

  • Hey Suzanne, thanks for visit’n my site–it’s always a thrill to find other Kansas gardeners!! I planted okra for the first time this year. They are coming up nicely. We have lots of heart disease in our families, so we will fry only a VERY little (but yum, do we love it that way!) Primarily, I hope to be able to pickle it–which is really how we love it best. I serve pickles and olives and veggy sticks with our soups in the winter and for a rare treat, we will buy some pickled okra from the store–pricy! Drop by anytime, but be forewarned–it’s not solely gardening–lots of kid stuff and other projects too!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Melanie,
      Thanks for stopping by. I’ve never had okra pickled, but I’ll have to give it a try on your recommendation.
      Take care,
      Suzanne

  • I was in my thirties before I ever tasted okra. Ate a lot of fried okra when I lived in Alabama and liked it. I think it’s mostly a southern food but there is one restaurant here that serves it. Isn’t it odd that many foods are regional?
    Marnie

    • Suzanne

      Hi Marnie
      My family raised okra when I was a kid, and I wonder if we did so because we lived in Florida for a time. I agree, it’s more a southern food.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Suzanne

  • Bonnie

    Yes, in vegetable soup!

  • I have never tried it. It does sound like there’s a lot of different ways I could try it. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll have to see if I can’t get some seeds to try it.

  • T

    Hi, What a wonderful blog!

    Thank you for the nice comment on my blog about my new Border Collie puppy. Very kind of you.

  • Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    In tropical garden, the tree is a space hog and ants attractor, especially in sandy soil. I remember used to play under the tree and got badly bitten. But I eat okra raw. It is just how I was raised and the culture is. My mom would served it lightly boiled or to be eaten raw with other garden harvest, such as cucumbers and tomatoes.

    I wonder how it tasted with salad dressing tho… never try that before.

  • Janet

    Does no one else think okra is a little, well…slimy? I have never cooked any myself (no desire…slimy) I’m thinking I’ve just never had it prepared properly. I would try it again, but idk, it might just not be for everybody (me). I have texture issues- don’t like okra, figs, mangoes, pears, eggplant. It’s not the taste so much, but the ~feel~. But I’m sure yours is delicious!

    • Suzanne

      Hello Janet,
      Yes, it is slimy, both raw and boiled. Kinda icky in my opinion. But if you fry it, there’s no sliminess, and it’s very tasty.
      Suzanne

  • Shailaja

    Try frying okra with sliced shallots (onion), a pinch of red paprika and salt to taste. You’ll love it. And a tip for those who hate okra because of its sliminess: adding some vinegar while cooking the veggie will reduce the sliminess to acceptable levels.

  • Hi, My husband is from India and okra there is commonly called ‘Ladies Fingers’ as it kind of looks like them. So Lady Finger curry is very popular and so tasty. It does get a little slimy but only if it’s overcooked. We love it.

  • Hi Suzanne,
    What state do you live in? Your weather experiences sound similar to ours in Nebraska.

    I grew okra a long time ago. I had trouble getting it harvested before it got woody. I think part of the problem was not knowing good ways to cook it. I ended up adding it to soups. I think I also included some okra in my pepper, tomato,zucchini, onion, and whatever other veggie dish where I cooked them up with minimal olive or canola oil, then added some eggs to cook up with them. Your post makes me want to try it again. I don’t remember what kind I planted, but will look for the spineless ones.

  • I am so intrigued that there are so many okra lovers out there. I live in Pennsylvania and never had it once growing up. My sister and I tried it once as adults and it was very slimy. We thought perhaps we cooked it wrong. (We used the frozen in a box kind.) Your post and all of the comments are causing me to reconsider okra!! I will have to give it another try…maybe this time I will love it!! I will try the fried in cornmeal way! Wish me luck!

    • Suzanne

      Hello Bonnie Riffle,
      My parents served okra to us often in its slimy state, but at some point we tried the fried way, and never looked back. So much better. Give it a try.
      Suzanne

  • Suzanne

    Okra is an ingredient in lots of dishes in Louisiana. We use it in gumbo where it acts as a thickening agent. It appears in many Cajun and Creole dishes. My daddy used to grow it in his garden. It would grow to tower over his head. I remember itching terribly if I didn’t wear long sleeves to pick it. I, however, am not a lover of okra.

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