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Old July 28, 2019   #16
DonDuck
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This is my first year growing okra. I was given seed for Bush Cowhorn and Choppee by a Tomatoville member earlier this year. I germinated ten plants of each variety under lights and planted them out in mid May. I separated the varieties by about 100 feet to prevent crossing.


As with almost everything I grow, I was compelled to experiment a little with how I planted them. With the okra I experimented with the amount of sunlight they received by planting some in the shade of a large Oak tree. They only get four to six hours of direct morning sun. Others, I purposely crowded with other tall plants like staked asparagus ferns The shaded plants are almost twelve inches taller and more productive than the full sun plants. They are all crowded at low level by pepper plants, tomato plants, beets; and Butternut squash vines. They all receive the same amount of water through timed soaker hoses, and fertilizer. Crowding has not seemed to present a growth or production problem with either variety.


I understood the Cowhorn okra to be more productive and tender than the Choppee. The Cowhorn will probably be more productive when they fully branch out and start producing on each branch. The Cowhorn okra has very pronounced ribs which become tough quickly and don't soften if baked or grilled, but do soften when boiled. The Choppee okra started producing about three weeks earlier than the Cowhorn and the pods grow more rapidly than the Cowhorn without visible ribs and remain tender any way they are cooked. Surprisingly, some of the Choppee plants are also branching out and producing on each branch. It has presented a problem finding many of the mature pods since I only separated each plant by eighteen inches. I separated the Cowhorns by almost five feet anticipating the branching habit.


Both varieties started producing slowly, but are now producing more than we can eat or give away. I'm expecting a full freezer and a lot of dried pods by summers end. I really do need to purchase Chris's book if for the recipes alone.


I've eaten them with and without stems. I find it easier to cut the stems off because I can't seem to predict which stems will be tough and which will not be tough. The pods grow so fast, I can't always harvest them before they are six to nine inches long.

Last edited by DonDuck; July 28, 2019 at 11:16 PM.
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Old July 29, 2019   #17
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Don, thanks for posting about your Choppee okra. This year is also the first time I've ever grown it and am growing it in full sun next to Jing Orange okra. Next to those big honkin' Jing pods, the slender, almost no-rib Choppee pods seem almost dainty with a velvety feel to them.

The Jing and Choppee have both been fully branched for about two weeks now and are producing enough to cut daily and I think the Choppee is out-producing the Jing. That's just a guess as I haven't done any weighing but I ought to over a week's time.

What's interesting to me is the difference in tenderness between the two. The Jing stays tender even when about 6" long. However the Choppee pods start getting a bit tough when any bigger than about 4" long. Funny thing though, if I find a 6" Choppee pod that escaped my notice, both the top and bottom 1-1.5" are tender and tough in between when I cut into them.

Like you, I'll get all I want/need in the freezer from these 6 plants (three of each) and give the rest away. But I *must* try that okra kimchee!
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Old July 29, 2019   #18
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In my garden, the choppee okra doesn't get slightly tough until it is about eight inches long. I'm starting to believe I can ony totally avoid toughness by being very observant and harvesting the pods as soon as the blossom starts drying but before the dry blossom drops off the pod. After the blossom drops, the pod grows so fast; it can be six to eight inches long within the following day.


If okra taste can be defined, I believe the Cowhorn okra has a slightly better "okra" flavor than the Choppee okra. It may be only soil differences between the beds instead of a variety difference. I really prefer the Choppee texture over the Cowhorn. I'm looking forward to allowing some okra to dry on the plants for seed and for grinding into powder. I want to try using the okra powder in dishes as a thickner and okra seasoning. I want to try using it in Cajun gumbo instead of gumbo file powder. My taste buds start dancing when I think about mixing some okra powder with some habernero powder for spicy dishes.


Here are a few photos of my okra. Bush Cowhorn is in the railroad tye bed and Choppee is in the landscape timber beds.
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Last edited by DonDuck; July 29, 2019 at 04:56 PM.
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Old July 30, 2019   #19
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Is it too late to plant okra in south central North Carolina? Zone 8? I’m in a sandy part,2 miles from the border of South Carolina on the big bend in the state, just west of I-95 and east of Hwy 1.
Also, can I plant okra without doing a good till? I’m working on converting part of my horse pasture but I think it’s to compacted and dry right now to run my tiller over it. I thought I might do some sweet corn,okra,watermelon,winter and summer squash and sunflowers, plus some bush beans and red rippers or pink eye/purple hull. Then this fall I can start really adding the organic matter to the soil with leaves,manure and planting a cover crop.
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Old July 30, 2019   #20
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The various okras I've grown over time seem to start producing in the neighborhood of 60 days from seeding, give or take a couple days. So if you planted tomorrow you should get your first pod around October 1st.

Keep in mind that for the first several weeks you'll get a pod from the central leader maybe every other day until the side branches develop to the point where they start kicking out pods too. That's the multiplier effect, when you start getting enough okra to actually do something with.

I don't know when you get your first hard frost but regardless, it would be an interesting experiment to plant a couple just to see what you get. After a rain you could loosen and amend just a few planting holes instead of having to till a bunch.

Go for it!
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Old July 30, 2019   #21
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I've read okra is a vegetable which is very forgiving of different soil types. Most people seem to say with sufficient water and nutrients, it can grow anywhere. It would seem a little late to grow okra if planted out today. It may germinate and grow a little, but the arrival of fall weather will probably limit your production.



In my area in north Texas, first frost usually occurs around November 15. I have no idea when yours occurs.
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Old July 31, 2019   #22
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I’ll give it a try. I’m breaking some new ground this weekend for a bigger garden, hoping I get some rain so the ground is a little softer. Will be a busy weekend, have to clean out the stalls and chicken coop to spread, lay out the weed mats and plant seeds. Will be planting things that improve the soil- deep tap roots and beans/ cowpeas. It’s good soil but compacted since the horses have been on it but it’s sandy so should be easy to loosen up.
The shadier areas are by the pond with trees on the edge. I’ll plant some azaleas and other nice ornamentals there since we are putting a swing, chairs and fire pit there to enjoy. Trying to make my garden more inviting so that we spend more time relaxing and not just working out there.
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Old July 31, 2019   #23
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I put a chair on the shady side of my okra under the oak tree. As the sun goes down at the end of a long, hot day; it is the coolest place to sit and reflect while the dogs chase bugs for extra protien.
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Old July 31, 2019   #24
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Don, does any of your okra grow in full sun? If so, how do those plants compare in size and production to those in part shade? I've never grown any in part shade but if it helps in these high temps (97 again today) I'd be willing to try a few there next year.
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Old July 31, 2019   #25
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It may change as the summer progresses, but my plants, shaded by a large oak tree; have grown and produced better than those growing in full sun. They do get four to six hours of morning sun before it gets hot. Those are the Bush Cowhorn. The Choppee are all growing well in full sun in a different bed.
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Old July 31, 2019   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDuck View Post
The Choppee are all growing well in full sun in a different bed.
Thanks for that info! I was just noticing this morning that in the okra bed (full sun) the Choppee are doing a lot better than the Jing as in handling the heat better. They're not as droopy looking mid day and haven't dropped near as many leaves.
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Old July 31, 2019   #27
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I'm beginning to wonder if there are nematodes in the okra bed or if the heat's really gotten to them. This is what the Jing Orange looked like two weeks ago:



Here are the same plants today:



They've had regular watering for the past two weeks, start looking droopy by late morning, really droopy in the afternoon and look fine in the morning. Could be the heat; could be nematodes as that's the pattern with that too. They've dropped a lot of leaves but are still putting out pods. The Choppee have also been drooping but haven't dropped as many leaves. They're holding up better.
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Old July 31, 2019   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDawgs View Post
I'm beginning to wonder if there are nematodes in the okra bed or if the heat's really gotten to them. This is what the Jing Orange looked like two weeks ago:



Here are the same plants today:



They've had regular watering for the past two weeks, start looking droopy by late morning, really droopy in the afternoon and look fine in the morning. Could be the heat; could be nematodes as that's the pattern with that too. They've dropped a lot of leaves but are still putting out pods. The Choppee have also been drooping but haven't dropped as many leaves. They're holding up better.

What do you mean by regular watering?
The term means nothing to me other than regular.
Okra likes very constant damp soil and some droop and some dont.
My cow horn and long pod green never drooped and that was in very hot weather.
Drip irrigation two hours in the morning and the same in the heat of the afternoon.
Every day.
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Old July 31, 2019   #29
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Quote:
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What do you mean by regular watering?
The term means nothing to me other than regular.
Okra likes very constant damp soil and some droop and some dont.
My cow horn and long pod green never drooped and that was in very hot weather.
Drip irrigation two hours in the morning and the same in the heat of the afternoon.
Every day.
An old timer once told me okra loves two things, all the sun and all the water you can give it. These plants stay consistantly damp under the mulch with hand watering both late afternoon and first thing in the morning. That's why I'm wondering about the nematodes. It was hot last July too and the okra didn't droop as much as this. This is a typical nematode pattern. Guess I'll find out when it's time to pull up the plants.
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Old July 31, 2019   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDawgs View Post
An old timer once told me okra loves two things, all the sun and all the water you can give it. These plants stay consistantly damp under the mulch with hand watering both late afternoon and first thing in the morning. That's why I'm wondering about the nematodes. It was hot last July too and the okra didn't droop as much as this. This is a typical nematode pattern. Guess I'll find out when it's time to pull up the plants.

I guess you will but I wouldn't worry about it too much.
Worry is a price you pay for something that hasn't happened or you cant do anything about.
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