Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Louisiana Short?

I chose to grow the okra variety Louisiana Short because I thought the plants would stay relatively short in my yard, somewhat like the variety Cajun Jewel. What I have, though, is regular sized plants and short, fat, okra pods!

I have never seen such fat okra pods before. Happily, they are tasty and easy to turn on the skillet when we cook them (we don’t deep-fry).

Another unexpected and not unwelcome feature of these plants is that the stems and some of the leaves have some red on them. The flowers are smaller than flowers of Cajun Jewel, but the red streaks and spots make up for the less showy flowers. One plant is almost all red and even makes red pods!

If, before choosing this year’s okra, I had read the 2008 Okra Report from the Kerr Center in Oklahoma, I would have known that Louisiana Short is not, actually, short. A helpful table, describing many varieties of okra, included in the Kerr Report includes categories for height, color, pod type (standard vs. fat!), ease of harvest, first harvest date, and attractiveness.

Surprisingly, the table doesn’t have a check for Louisiana Short under the column “Attractive Landscape Plant,” which is defined in the report as plants that have red parts. The Kerr Center got their seed from the same place I did, Sand Hill Preservation, so I don’t know why theirs isn’t listed as showing any red.

The helpful table does show that Cajun Jewel gets just 25 inches tall, which matches my experience with that variety. Louisiana Short is supposed to get just 44 inches tall, but I notice that 44 inches is also the listed height for the variety Clemson Spineless, which at the Plant a Row for the Hungry Garden where I volunteer gets well over seven feet high (some plants, we are pretty sure, get to nine feet). It will be interesting to measure my okra’s height at the end of the season!

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