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Portrait of Okra


Although I can’t share my supper of okra and tomatoes, I can share these closeups. Being a Northern gal, I had always wondered what okra looked like–and cotton–and banana trees–and live oaks. Like famous pieces of art, there is something about being in the personal space–to measure up against those pieces.

Okra Flower
Okra Flower

the flowers are about 3 inches across and are a lovely creamy white with a deep purple center and a buttery yellow pistil.

apical meristem or the top of the okra plant
apical meristem or the top of the okra plant

Here is the top of the plant–it will continue growing taller. The stem is about an inch and a half thick at the base. They are not easy to remove. They might have been the original beanstalk that Jack climbed up as they are very sturdy.

Okra pods in bucket
Okra pods in bucket

I use buckets captured from a local doughnut shop–this one used to contain apple filling–as my work buckets around the garden and shop-dyeing/painting projects–carefully separated as to purpose. Okra has a lot of spines on the leaves and stems and pods which is probably why the resident deer/rabbits/cattle egrets carefully ignore them. Although I am harvesting every other day or so, sometimes the pods become woody but you can’t tell just by size, you have to try to cut into them.

My garden is not exactly a cost-saver. It is not very large; just three raised beds two feet across and eight feet long propped up in place by cement blocks and mulched heavily on both sides to discourage runners from San Augustine grass. I’ve had to replenish the soil every year/ replace the weed-barrier on the bottoms every other year/ and water fairly frequently. My harvest does not substantially lower my grocery bills although now with just my husband and myself to feed, they are minuscule compared to the orphanage days with three boys and their friends.  But the joy I have in digging in that dirt, seeing what’s in bloom, gathering the fruits of that day, and eating it that night–as they say—priceless!
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. When I was in graduate school, training to be a museum professional, I worked for Colonial Williamsburg. Like you, I’m a midwestern farm girl born and bred.

    While I detest okra, I love the looks of the okra plant. It is a wonderful plant! I will admit, I accepted a grocery bag full of okra so that I could extend our food budget…and was really at a loss as to making stuff with it….I kept on wishing people had given me a bag of green beans….or even a bag of tomatoes!

    I too am raising veggies in raised beds–18″ x 4’x 4′. Helps save the back, but filling it with soil was a trip!

    September 7, 2009
  2. I LOVE ocra! My favorite way to cook it is to microwave it for a couple of minutes to get it a bit slimy, then dredge it in Jiffy cornbread mix and pan fry it in just a tiny bit of vegetable oil. Lightly breaded, lightly fried…yummy goodness!

    For those pods that get too big or tough to eat, hang them somewhere to dry and use them in your art!

    September 7, 2009

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