(Abelmoschus esculentus) Okra, also known as gumbo or lady’s finger, is a hibiscus relative grown for its immature seed pods. Okra thrives in hot weather and is often the last one standing in Southern gardens when the punishing summer heat has brought less hardy vegetables to their knees. Contrary to common belief, okra grows just fine in northern gardens, too — the plants grow and produce seed pods quickly once summer has set in. Okra’s exact origin is unknown, although it is believed to hail from Ethiopia, western Africa and southern Asia. Okra was introduced to the Americas in the 1600s, presumably carried from Africa aboard slave ships. Southern growers should soak seeds the night before planting, and direct seed after soil has warmed and all chance of frost has passed. Plant about six inches apart in rows six feet apart. Shorter season growers can start okra indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the expected last frost date. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep, ideal soil temperature is 80-90F. Seeds are quick to germinate if the soil is warm enough and will pop in just 4-10 days. Space plants 12 inches apart. Okra will tolerate poor soil, little water, and it does not like excessively rich soil.
Okra lovers rejoice! This is the most productive okra we have ever seen, with plants producing as much as 250 pods per plant in a season and 44 young, tender pods in a single day. This unbelievable heirloom was selected and perfected over decades by one dedicated farmer in Oklahoma. Dry Creek Farm owner Ron Cook received seeds of Clemson Spineless okra in 1972 from a local gardening friend who had saved her own seeds for decades. Once in his hands, Ron began to select for heavy productivity. After many years of improvement and selection, the Heavy Hitter stands to be one of the most productive okras of all time and with no compromise to flavor and texture. For those who love to grow a mess of okra, this is your variety. You can expect heavy crops of uniform pods, perfect for pickling and then savoring all season long!
You can eat the pods of this truly impressive heirloom okra from Louisiana until they reach around 10 inches long, which is about 2 times as long as most okra varieties! Seasoned okra growers know how easy it is to miss a day of picking and find your plant covered in pods that are too tough to eat. With this variety though, pods can stay tender a little longer. The pale green pods are superbly tasty and tender. Plants are rugged and sturdy.
A mammoth heirloom okra from West Africa that produces gargantuan edible leaves and delicious pods. This outstanding okra was introduced to us by Jon Jackson, a retired U.S Army Airborne Ranger and founder of Comfort Farms, a non-profit agriculture program focused on helping veterans to heal and learn sustainable farming practices. Jon’s mother hails from Liberia, West Africa, so on a quest to learn about his ancestral farming roots, he came across this remarkable variety of okra that is considered a productive and reliable staple in his mother’s homeland, as well as in other parts of West Africa. Jon grows the seeds for this okra on his farm in Georgia. There, the late-maturing plants grow to 15 feet tall with elephant ear-sized leaves, but the plants will express themselves differently depending on the climate in which they are grown. Other gardeners report plants averaging 6-8 feet. The pods are an unusual round shape and not entirely spineless. They are exquisite and versatile in cooked dishes, and can even be eaten raw when young. The leaves are also edible when cooked, and in their native range they are traditionally made into soup.
All images in this listing are courtesy of Jon Jackson of Comfort Farms.
The famous “tree okra” of Ghana! Unique pods are tender and of a deep green color, sometimes tinged in red. This prized variety is superior to most Okra from in the Americas. An exceptionally tall and delicious variety known to be long lived in its native range in Ghana, West Africa. The name literally translates to “tall okra”, and the plants can reach up to 12 feet tall. Solomon Amuzu, of Call to Permaculture Farm in Ghana, tells us this variety can live for up to 15 or 20 years in the tropics, if well maintained! It is also used for its flavorful leaves are widely used among the Akan, Ewe, Ga and Fante people, the leaves have a wonderful spinach flavor when cooked is soups, stews and curries. Plants produce dark green pods that are rich in mucilage. You can prune this variety to keep it shorter. This historic variety can have a slight bit of variation in color and fruit shape, but is among the best we have tried in our Missouri gardens.
60 days. A rare and beautiful treasure from Okinawa, Japan, and the most exciting vegetable introduction of 2021! The stunning bubblegum pink pods are packed with antioxidants and phenomenal flavor, making this variety both highly nutritious and gourmet. One of our favorite new edible ornamentals from the famous “blue zone” of Japan, where more people live to 100 than nearly any other place in the world. The sturdy plants produce lovely large flowers and uniquely non ribbed, round pods in a stunning pink color.