Growing Okra: A Gardener's Tale







Darn, I wish I had planted more okra. The packet of seeds contained only about six, so I did start each one, though only three made it to the seedling stage. I saved one for myself and gave the other two away. I had a very sunny, sheltered space for it and figured I'd raise it mainly as an ornamental, just to see how it would do. Well, it loves the space and has yielded one pod every other day. It is an unusual-looking plant, with broad, spikey, finger-like leaves reaching out of a tall, slender stalk. Out of the stalk bloom beautiful yellow flowers with red centers, which look similar to hibiscus. The petals drop off and reveal little points that in a matter of two days or so grow to become three-inch-long pods.

Now if only I had known how nutritious okra is, I would have kept all those plants to myself. Besides the fact that the freshly picked pods are so much more tender and sweet than the scuffed-up ones I buy, I’ve just discovered that okra is a gold mine of nutrients. It is a good source of protein, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper, and it is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamin, B6, folate, calcium, magnesium and manganese. Next year!

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