One of those interesting, exotic vegetables that we often hear about is okra. I always picture it as a veggie that grows only in the Deep South, but guess what; it can grow here, too!
The okra plant, part of the mallow family, originally comes from a tropical region, although the exact home has not been determined. It is certainly a well-travelled vegetable, a common staple in African, Portuguese, Indian, and Caribbean cooking. It might be called “gombo” in France or “bhindi” in India, or if we went to Turkey it would be called “bamyeh”, but an okra by any other name is still a wonderful, versatile plant! It can grow up to six feet tall, and has blooms very similar to the mallow plants that we are familiar with here. When the blooms become pods, the pods are green and ridged, and should be picked often to keep producing.
The pods are harvested when they are young, and are used in a variety of ways including soups, stews, or in stir fries. Their main claim to fame in cooking is the fact that they contain a soluble fibre that gets “slimy” when cooked, but this is what helps as an excellent thickening agent.
Okra also gets gold stars for health benefits, because it is an excellent source of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and a great source of fibre.
I have seen okra from time to time in the produce department at the store, and I have also seen it in the frozen food aisle, so we can easily give it a try! We can add it to stews, or steam the pods whole and add them to a salad.
If we would want to grow okra ourselves, I have seen the seeds in the T & T catalogue, as well as in Lindenberg. Here is what the Lindenberg catalogue has to say about okra “Cajun Delight”. “Cajun Delight: (49 days) An All-American Award W8inner for 1997. Dark green pods that remain tender and less fibrous even as they mature. Start indoors. Vigorous, semi-dwarf plants.” The T & T catalogue says “excellent in homemade soups, stews and relishes- to which it adds body. Tender immature pods can be harvested earlier and over a much longer period. The attractive plant makes an ideal background plant.”
It would be fun to have just a couple of these in our gardens; why not even try them in a container? That can be our garden challenge next year!
With all the rain we have had, we still have to wait and see the long-range effects on our gardens. If you feel you want to get away and take a break that’s a mini garden-getaway, you might like to take part in the Saskatchewan Horticultural Association bus trip, which happens July 18 and 19, 2014, and was scheduled to travel to the Weyburn, Estevan and Windthorst areas. I’m sure this would be an educational and rewarding trip, but because of all the devastation in the south of the province, I’m not sure if the trip is still using the same itinerary. I checked the website and it doesn’t say anything about a change, but if you are interested in going, please call Denise Mlazgar at 306-331-9181 and she can bring you up to date.
Also coming up, the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be helping out with the Yorkton In Bloom Bus Tour on July 24. Hope you can be there, you’ll find lots of gardening inspiration! Everyone is welcome!
Have a great week, and be sure to take a tour of your garden each day and savor the beauty there!