Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dwarf okra not recommended

I should have done my danged homework.  I like to experiment with back-yard gardening so when I came across some seedlings for sale marked as "dwarf okra", I asked the proprietor what that meant, and was told "It's simply okra that doesn't grow as tall, so it's more compact for tight spaces."
I have tight spaces.  That's last year's non-dwarf okra in a stock tank, but it probably got two feet higher than what's shown in this photo.  Okra typically grows into a really huge plant. 

Pic from The Ultimate Okra Tour de Force post
Wrong answer.  The plants I bought may indeed be shorter, but more consequentially, the pods are also shorter - and much wider.
Representatives of this year's crop: three "normal" pods and one thick, stubby bugger from my first dwarf plant.
The problem is that if you're making a kick-butt jambalaya, you cannot cross-chop the behemoth "dwarf" product into the appropriate bite-sized pieces because they'll be too large.  They'll have to be halved, which means they'll fall apart and the esthetics of the dish will be terrible.  Jambalaya looks cool with all those okra pinwheels in it to balance the curled shrimp.

As is often the case, I'm late chick to the party, here.  Apparently there is "long pod dwarf okra" and "short pod dwarf okra".  Even Amazon knows the difference.  But I didn't, and I doubt there's a good way to tell when looking at generic "dwarf" seedlings.  If I'd instead gotten "long pod dwarf okra", my culinary aspirations would have been realized. 

Screengrab from Amazon. 
This is an incredibly minor problem in the grand scheme of things, but I grow okra specifically because we have a fondness for the Cajun cuisine in which we use it, so it's frustrating.  90% of my crop this year is the dwarf variety which I am now not sure how to utilize.  It had been my intention to grow an entire year's supply of the stuff, given that it freezes so well.  Maybe next year.

I'll close with an interesting bit of okra trivia.  According to this site, "This African native and staple of the Deep South really thrives on heat! Slaves from Angola called okra “ngumbo” which became gumbo, a popular name for several okra dishes to this day."  Who knew??
Ngone but not forgotteng. Some of last year's harvest ready for the monolithic freezer"My NGod, it's full of okra stars!"

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