Saturday, August 17, 2013

Okra Takes the Heat

I as amazed by this, my first okra flower! I grew the plant from some seeds a friend gave me after seeing how ornamental an okra plant looked in her yard last summer.
You can see how lovely the leaves are, large and almost umbrella-like.
Here are some of the first okra pods. I later learned I'd left them on the plant too long. They got too woody and now I am drying them for ornamental use. You should pick the pods when they are only 2 inches long.
I have yet to eat any of the okra from the 4 or 5 plants in the yard. For one thing, I have never been a fan of okra. But my husband loves it, so when we get enough pods, I will trying roasting them with olive oil in the oven. One of my yoga pals told me okra looses its slime when roasted. Or we may just boil some okra slices with stewed tomatoes.
I learned that okra is a member of the mallow family and is related to cocoa, cotton and hibiscus. Very few edibles can take the heat like okra does; in fact it seems to thrive during these humid dog days of summer in Houston. Apparently there is great debate about whether okra originated in West Africa or South Asia. It is said to be drought-tolerant, but if I didn't water my plants every day, they started to droop. Having a sky-high water bill during the last three rain-starved summers has been the price I pay for being a hobby gardener. In fact, for me, it doesn't matter if I ever eat the okra, since I enjoy growing it simply as a tropical curiosity.
Last but not least, who knew there was a town called Okra in Texas? In Eastland County, near Abilene, it is said to have a dwindling population of twenty or less. Not many other details available, even from the Handbook of Texas.... 

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