Okra really wasn’t a thing here in the north when I was a kid. I only remember my mom cooking it once – I think she bought it frozen – and we all thought it was pretty awful.
The first time I had okra and thought it was fantastic was in a Shrimp Creole Stew that a good southern friend made.
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So, of course, I had to try growing it myself. And for a northern garden, it does pretty well. Okra likes hot, sunny weather, and my PA garden doesn’t always co-operate, but we get enough to make it worth our while.
In the south, okra seed is direct sown; here in the north, I start my okra plants indoors under lights about 6 weeks before our last average frost. After hardening them off, I plant the seedlings about 18″ apart in our lasagna garden which has rich, fertile soil.
Okra flowers are beautiful and watching them form into little okras is fantastic. I harvest them with scissors when they are about 3 – 6″ long. If they get larger, they will be tough. Every once in a while, I miss one and it gets huge. I dry those and save them for okra Santa ornaments for my Christmas tree.
I really, really love that Shrimp Creole, but it’s not an everyday meal around here. But we grill a lot when the weather is hot, and grilled okra is super easy, and super delicious. People always tell us they don’t like okra – and then they taste it grilled. It’s a great way to change their minds.