The newest addition to the garden this year is Okra. During the winter there was an okra shortage and I couldn't find frozen okra at any of the seven zillion grocery stores near me. After being denied delicious home-cooked gumbo and jambalaya during Snowmageddon 2011, I vowed to grow it myself.
Okra loves heat, moisture and the muggy-swampy weather of Louisiana, it's perfect for Mid-Atlantic gardens! I started my plants from seed in March, and they grew insanely fast. After an April transplant to a larger pot, they grew steadily but were not ready for 24 hours of outdoor time. The final transplant for the 4 plants to their home outside, came in May.
My first gumbo of the season was tasty, but it was clear that I had let some of the pods get too large, it was like eating delicious splinters. Now I venture out everyday looking for pods around 2-4 inches long, 3 inches is optimum. I had hopes of pickling okra, but I don't get enough pods in a week to justify hauling out the canning equipment. Perhaps a second container next year will do the trick.
When I'm not frying or grilling okra, I'm blanching and freezing the pods whole. I'm determined to have piping hot bowls of gumbo to warm us up when the temps drop into the teens this winter!
A unexpected benefit of okra - these beautiful flowers. I'm head over heels for this veg and will have a space for it in my garden for years to come.