IN THE GARDEN TODAY
Every year in the vegetable garden, I like to grow something I’ve never done before. This year, I decided to make one last attempt at growing one of my significant other’s favorite foods from Texas where he grew up. For 3 summers now, I have bought starter plants and each year they die within a few weeks, before any growth occurs. Determination to feed him fresh okra kept nagging at me this spring, so I gave in and once again purchased starter plants.
So technically, this isn’t a first time with this food, but to be fair, the other 2 years were complete failures so I’m counting it!
It’s not as if I didn’t know what I was doing in years 1 and 2. I read EVERYTHING I could find online about okra and what it needs to grow. From gardeners’ blogs it seems simple – if you live in a hot climate, all you have to do is put the plant in the ground in the hottest, driest place, and it will grow to amazing heights (up to 8 ft tall!) and produce like crazy. I live in eastern Colorado and we have summers with temperatures in the 90s almost daily. I have good soil in my garden beds. That’s all there is to it, right? Why was I not successful doing it the way everyone said to?
Third time’s a charm!
What did I do differently in year 3 to achieve success? Going against all advice from the internet, I planted the young plants (I chose a spineless green okra variety because I feared picking a spiny variety after reading how awful it is to harvest) in partial shade and watered heavily. In addition, it rained for weeks on end in July, providing much more moisture than I planned to give the plants. To say the least, I was surprised when just 3 weeks after planting, one plant flowered! Then they all started to flower, and as the fruit developed, the plants grew taller. I’m currently picking one okra per plant every 2 weeks, each about 3-4 inches long. Each plant has 2-3 flowers and fruits on it at a time which is 100% success in my book.
While I tend to trust certain sources of information on growing plants, I’m glad that my failures led me to do things a different way. I think it’s important in so many areas of life that we are flexible and willing to go outside of the box, even in the garden!
Looks like C will get his okra after all! I’m glad that I didn’t give up and now I have a new vegetable to experiment with in the kitchen!
Those words were printed on the thin plastic informational stake in the small pot from which I transplanted the 2 inch-high pickling cucumber plants in my recently amended soil. I guess I never read it. I’m up to my ears in cucumbers ready to pick and it’s only been one week since they started to flower!
I kind of like cucumbers. I’ll slice them and put them in a glass of water, or chop them up small to add to a salad. But overall, I can definitely live without them. The same goes for pickles. I pretty much only like them fried, in spears, and no sweetness for me, thank you very much!
So I have a pile of pickling cucumbers and no great internet searches are telling me what to do with them. Although I did learn that you can grill cucumbers…I might have to try that. I kept thinking about pickling, since I purposely bought the pickling kind – mainly because I don’t like the flavor of other varieties, except the lemon cucumber which I will never grow again, as I was overwhelming people at work by insisting they take a bag a week. Within 1 week I was sick of the lemon cucumbers and they will be invited back into my life down the road, but not anytime soon. Prolific!
I am also in desperate need of ideas for how to store my garden goodies for at least 3 weeks. My annual trip up to the Arctic starts this Sunday and the timing this year is terrible! Everything in the garden has exploded and is ripe now, rather than 2 weeks from now, which is typical. It’s great, I abandon the garden for 2-3 weeks and come back to veggies galore. But it’s here now. And I’m stressed out.
Yesterday I decide that not all pickles are terrible and rubbery, and overly salty. When I was a kid, my neighbors made amazing pickles that I loved. In fact, I would often eat so many of them at a time, I would go home and be sick all night. So, maybe I love homemade pickles? At least this memory gave me motivation to try.
Much to my surprise, making pickles is incredibly easy! I chose to make refrigerator pickles because it is 99F outside today and in the house it’s much too hot to be boiling lots of water and hanging out over the stove. So I found a simple recipe online, and as I tend to do, used it as a base and changed all kinds of things in it. In about 4 weeks I’ll know if this altering was a mistake or not.
I’ll be making another batch on Saturday evening before I take flight to the great north and will add in a spicy pepper or two to mix it up a bit. If I don’t like the results, maybe my coworkers will.