Friday, October 14, 2011

Growing Okra in Northern Nevada

I usually start a couple of okra seeds inside in April, the same time I start my tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Sometimes they'll take forever to sprout, sometimes the seeds are up and growing quickly. Often they'll get too big and die back before the weather gets warm enough for them. The young plants are super-tender too. I've had little okra plants freeze inside their Wall-o-waters when nothing else was even fazed. They can really tricky to harden off and transplant even when the weather does warm up.

This spring, I started seeds twice, and both times they died before even making it into the garden. I just figured I wouldn't have any okra this year (again). Then, in early July, I had a bit of empty space after I cleared out some early greens. I thought I'd try direct-seeding six Clemson Spineless seeds - it was certainly hot enough by then that maybe they'd germinate outside. The seed packet said 60 days to harvest. If the fall freezes held off 'til mid-September, I just might get a few pods.

All six germinated, and grew quickly. By the end of September, I had a little over a quart of pods in the freezer - enough for maybe three batches of my favorite lentil & okra stew this winter. I was pleasantly surprised that I got anything at all.

The first week of October, when the night temps dropped into the 20's, I figured that was it. I picked all the okra pods, but didn't pull the plants. I figured I'd get around to it after they froze. They didn't freeze! The last cucumber and squash plants are all shriveled; the last bit of basil black and crispy; the tomato and chile plants are already in the compost bin. After struggling to keep the extremely tender young okra plants alive each spring, I'm amazed to see that these mature plants are STILL blooming and growing strong into late October. Who knew? From now on, okra will be a mid-summer into fall plant in this northern Nevada garden.


Ryan said...

our okra is also still going strong here in Iowa

Annodear said...

What a pretty flower!

Cool post~ bet you're glad you gave it a try, huh? :)

Marleigh said...

I had the same problem on Southern California, on the edge of the Mojave. Two batches of seedlings bit the dust, so I transplanted the third group reeeeeeeally early and I've actually had luck with those plants. Not as much as I would've liked (got them in too late), but apparently they love that late summer heat getting started!

Anonymous said...

Here in Kentucky, I direct-sow okra seeds in the garden the same day i set out tomato plants in early summer. A few years ago, I only had seeds purchased from the local Dollar General Store .... the pack said they may reach five feet tall yet my okra grew to 10 feet two inches and put out pods every day until the first heavy frost. Over the summer I harvested a five gallon bucket of pods from each of my plants which i sliced in rounds and then put in the deep freezer. I use them throughout the year by tossing a handful in every soup I make and of course fried okra is a favorite. After it thaws, the pre-sliced okra has the perfect amount of moisture to toss around in some cornmeal and deep fried. So simple and easy yet tasty. I save seeds from my giant okra to use again the next year. I will never be without my okra seeds!!!insba