Growing our produce from organic seed, in naturally enriched soil, means we get to relish in things like eating straight from the garden and saving seeds.
Because we know the genes were not altered and there was no cross pollination, we saved the okra seeds to plant another season. Okra seeds have 50% chance of germination for up to 5 years! Ours won’t stick around that long, but it is good to note.
Our okra was off-the-chain amazing this year. I couldn’t help but post its beauty and bounty on social media, here and here. This season we were able to freeze three and a half gallon bags, pickle a few jars, and save a handful for seeds all from a tiny space.
To freeze the okra, we just threw them in the bag and sealed it tight before placing it back in the freezer. It is even easier than freezing tomatillos.
Pickling, another easy way to preserve okra, was just an experiment, playing with recipes and testing if we even liked pickled okra at all. For the record, we are still on the fence.
For seed saving, we waited until the season was dying down and chose a few of the best okra pods to leave on the stalk to fully mature. In order to remember which ones we selected as ‘the best’, we tied a piece of cloth around the stem. It worked for the most part, as I can get a little harvest happy.
After several weeks, we finally cut the aging okra off and brought them in to dry out. Once the okra have dried, they begin to crack and you can pry them open to remove the seeds from inside.
We placed the seeds in a seed packet and labeled it. We reuse a lot of old empty seed packets and just scratch out the name and/or year and relabel them.
We decided to try out a new variety that we scored at the half off sale at Sow Tue Seed for next year, but it will be fun to plant our very own saved Clemson Spineless okra seeds and see what transpires. At least speaking for myself, Ryan was 12 years old saving okra seeds all on his own. I love little things about his youth like that. He didn’t even look up how to do it, he just did it and succeeded.
- When handling okra in the garden, you will want to wear gloves and cover up so you don’t get pricked with their tiny needle like hairs. Clemson Spineless okra is what we have been growing for years and they are nearly spine free.
- To avoid cross pollination, you can bag individual blooms with Muslin 4×6 drawstring bags or even use nylon hosiery. Pick the best okra and place the ‘bag’ over the bloom in the late afternoon or evening while the bloom is closed. Secure it with drawstrings, rubber band, tape, whatever it takes to keep the bugs out to prevent pollination. Leave the bags on for a full day and remove them the next. Tag the okra with a string so you don’t forget which one you wanted to save. Don’t reuse the same bags for 48 hours because the pollen will still be viable until that point.
- Wait to save seed until the season starts to slow down. Once you let an okra pod mature on the stalk, those that grow after it will be tend to become very tough.
Now that the okra is cleared out and the bed is being prepped for winter, I can hardly wait for next season. I have officially decided okra is my garden addiction. It always sounds good to me.