Category Archives: Okra

First Okra

WiltThe last ten days have been rainless—except for a few light sprinkles. I hand-watered the garden yesterday morning.

Notice that the plants look slightly wilted. That’s not from lack of water, it’s normal Florida summertime wilt. The mid-day sun is so bright that many plants (even habaneros*) wilt in self-defense. They perk right back up in the evening.

PodsI picked my first okra just before making supper. There were only three pods but this is really an experiment. I’ve never cared for okra when I’ve had it in the past, and not because I disliked the flavor!

I ate one of the smaller pods raw and found it very pleasant. The other two I chopped up and added to a stir fry. The cutting board was slimy after the chopping but the stir-fried chunks were not. The largest pod was a bit tough. Must pick them when they’re smaller.Rocks

I’m beginning to think I should have planted more. Live and learn.

In other news: the folks who lived here long ago loved decorative rock mulches—which I’m slowly removing. At least it’s easy to sift rocks out of sand.

God bless,

Rick

*This is the correct (Spanish) spelling.

Update June 10, 2013

Okra More rain on Sunday evening–none so far today.
Hand watered garden with bucket and scoop.

Okra looks OK–but a couple of the stems look suspiciously thin where they meet the soil.

 

PurpleOne of the Purple slips looks dead. The others are beginning to stand up and look like plants!

Compost piles:
#1: 100°
#2:  110°
#3:  140° (less than half filled)

I’m trying to figure out what world my web host lives in. It’s June 10 where I live but the date (below) says June 11. Weird.

The Okra is Up

Today was a very busy day – lots of maintenance. The good news is…

The okra has germinated and is doing just fine – sort of. I had planted  five groups of three seeds. The germination counts were three, two, two, one, and zero. Eight out of fifteen isn’t too good.

No CardboardNotice that these two okra plants have no cardboard around them. We had a bad windstorm on Tuesday and I guess that one piece of cardboard wasn’t weighted down very well. I don’t know where it went; it isn’t in the yard. It’s interesting that the cardboardless seedlings look better than any of the others. Perhaps I need to rethink that “trapdoor in the cardboard” idea.

About an hour after breakfast I perceived that the neighborhood was awake – one of the neighbors started doing some outside repairs with a hammer. I headed out to get the lawn mowed. Rain was in the forecast and I wanted get finished before it began. Of course it started raining while I was still doing the front yard. It was a gentle rain, though, and didn’t make it through the Oak-leaf canopy over my head.

Soon the rain stopped but I had to wait for the grass in the backyard to dry out again. I stayed busy working on the compost heaps. I’ve neglected, til now, to provide a time-line and updates; this I will now remedy.

I started the first compost pile on the weekend of February 16 – 17. I finished filling it on March 3. The second compost bin began its life the following weekend, March 9. It was filled to overflowing by  Sunday, May 5. Since I was out of town the following weekend I built my new compost heap on Saturday the eighteenth, two weeks ago.

Compost pile number one, which was mostly Oak leaves – thoroughly shredded – didn’t heat up very quickly. The highest temperature I recorded was about 125°. Last weekend it was down to 110 and today I measured it at 108°. I dug into it today and took some nice pictures to show how well, though slowly, it was decaying. Alas, techno-trouble with my SD card resulted in the loss of those pictures.

Compost pile number two had a lot more nitrogen in the mix. I checked the temperature two weeks ago and it was 135°. Last weekend it was down to 120 and today about 115. Unfortunately I have been slack on keeping the compost heaps moist enough so I took some time today to give them a drenching – 15 gallons in the two older bins and ten for the new one. I’ll check the temperatures again this week to see the affect of the added moisture.

Water BareAfter clipping the back yard (all twelve blades of grass) I still had some time before lunch to “repair” the okra problem. Rather than replant seeds in the bare spot I pricked out a seedling from the threesome and planted it in the empty location. I’ll have to thin the extras in any case.

The verb, “to prick”, is one of those lovely Anglo-Saxon words with lots of different meanings. If you look it up in an (online) dictionary you have to go way down the list before you find the definition “to transplant a seedling.”

I first gently watered the vermiculite in each of the spots – including the one with no seedlings. I punched a hole with my finger where I wanted the new plant to go. Then I used a wooden matchstick to gently loosen the vermiculite around the seedling I was going to prick out. Some people like to use a pencil, a toothpick, or a skewer, but since I moved I haven’t been able to find my pencils or my toothpicks or my bamboo skewers.

Tap rootAs you can see from the photo I gently lifted the seedling out of the ground. Notice the nice taproot it is developing. I had to stir down pretty deeply to get it to pull loose easily. This is another case where vermiculite really shines. It’s so loose that it does minimal damage to the roots when you have to transplant the tiny seedlings.

I placed the seedling in its new home and gently firmed the vermiculite around it. All done. I wonder if the okra will be ready to pick next weekend?

Sweet potatoesThe sweet potatoes, by the way, are looking good.

After lunch I had a long and exhausting trip to Home Depot – spending a little more than I had planned. But that’s a story for another post.

I’m going to sit here and enjoy the gentle evening rain.

God bless,

Rick

Planting Okra

Okra SeedsOne of the big problems with living in Pinellas County is that we aren’t sure what climate zone we live in. Most climate or hardiness zone maps show the Tampa Bay area as being at the north edge of zone 10 (or 10a). Unfortunately our weather is sometimes zone ten (South Florida) and sometimes zone nine (Central Florida).

Okra, according to many websites, can be planted in Central Florida from March to August. In South Florida, the spring planting season is supposed to be over in April. Since this has been a cool spring (still in the low 70s at night) decided to go ahead and get some okra in – even though it might theoretically be too late.

Ready to PlantI prepared the other end of the garden bed much as I did for the sweet potatoes. I used a four-tine cultivator, a garden rake, and my hands to get out most of the weeds and their deep roots. Then I did the trench/water/mix procedure until I had some dampness incorporated into the soil. In contrast to the way I handled the sweet potatoes I decided to add quite a bit of worm castings along the length of the row. as you can see, I added my cardboard mulch.

The seed packet indicated a spacing of 18 to 24 inches – so I spaced the first plant 2 feet from the nearest sweet potato seedling and used 18 inches for the rest. With my handy Swiss Army knife I cut out squares at the proper spacing. This time I left each cardboard sqare attached along one edge – a hinge. Since I’m planting seeds and not seedlings I want to retain as much water as possible in each spot.

VermiculiteI mixed some vermiculite (I always have some around) with water – making it pretty soggy. Each hole got a handful to act as “potting soil.” Seeds and brand-new sprouts don’t need any fertilizer – it can harm them. The vermiculite will insulate the seedlings from the worm castings until they grow their roots down far enough.

In each of the holes I placed three seeds – I’ll thin them once they’re up. I pushed them down a quarter inch deep – though the packet said they should be planted 4 inches deep! I suspect a typo.

Once the seeds were planted and covered in wet vermiculite I closed the individual covers to keep things nice and moist . I’ll pop them open in a couple of days to see if the sprouts are breaking through.

With much prayer,

Rick