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July 25, 2012

What to do with overgrown okra

If you planted any okra this season, right now you would be drowning in okra pods, and the okra plants themselves would be rivaling your oak trees. Yes, this is how prolific this plant is; once it is established in a reasonably good soil and you give it some water, it will grow to no ends. This summer we have plenty of water from Heavens, so okra should be thriving in your garden.

With that, of course, comes responsibility of harvesting okra pods, and I am not kidding when I say "responsibility". Okra pods can get overgrown in a matter of hours, not even days. So, just yesterday, okra pods were little and did not look like they were ready to be picked, but today the same pods are tough to the touch and are huge. So, what do you do with that overgrown okra?

First, do a "finger" test. Squeeze the okra pod with your thumb and your index finger. Does it give? Meaning, is it soft at all? If the answer is yes, then you can pick that pod and use it in your usual cooking, like fried or roasted okra recipe. If it is too tough to squeeze, leave it alone. Seriously. Let it ripen on the vine and then collect the dried pod for the next season's seed. You can also make okra coffee in a pinch, so, it is a good idea to save dry okra seeds for these two reasons at least. Last, but not least, you can preserve your okra crop by canning, pickling, or drying. Ball book of canning.

If you are a type of a gardener that appreciates home-grown mulch and compost, then okra is your best friend, just like bean stalks, cow peas, and corn. Okra has very fibrous stalks, meaning, that it provides a lot of compost material for the garden. Once you decide that you had enough of okra harvest, pull the plants and shred them into small (about two inch pieces) with your shredder or hand pruner and use in the garden right away - as a mulch at first, and when it is decomposed, as an additive to your soil. Really, you cannot waste any part of the okra plant. It is a simply amazing gift to the garden, both in food production and as a garden soil builder.


  1. That's one thing I didn't grow this year. Usually we grow okra and love it fried but just didn't get it in the ground this year.

    Today I am harvesting some sweet potatoes and will be finally updating my blog as I have a little time. Can't wait for the Fall planting season to get going. Looking forward to more of your updates. Keep up the good work.

  2. I have also used the overgrown okra pod seeds in salads. Split open the okra pod, and take out the seeds. Do this in a large bowl so the seeds don't roll away. You can use them in salads. They keep in the refrigerator in a closed container for about a week or so.



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