Welcome to Plain Gardening with Bill Finch, in an episode we call “The Sad and Disappointing Garden”.
The reason: Bill let his okra go too long before harvesting. If you still have okra growing, you need to keep a close eye on it. If okra stays on the vine just a little too long—like Bill’s did—they get really big and far too tough to eat. Pick them when they’re small; two or three inches long and still skinny.
Once you’ve harvested, enjoy okra in soups, stews, ragouts, and gumbos. You can fry them or boil them or roast them or pickle them…or, Bill’s favorite is to eat them right off the plant.
If you’ve let your okra go too far, all is not lost. In the olden days, once okra plants were past their prime, folks would “whip the okra”…that is, they’d take a stick and whack the plant stalks down to near the base. Nowadays, it’s easier and faster to use hand clipper for a garden-sized plot. Cut the okra plant to just above the lowest new leaves near the base, and it’ll come back strong—maybe even stronger—next season.
Learn more about okra at mobilebotanicalgardens.org.
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