THE OKRA LADY
Backyard Haven in San Antonio, Texas
Meet "The Okra Lady,” the woman behind @mybackyardtxgarden. She has been dubbed this alias by her friends and family because:
“First, it’s my favorite vegetable to grow and eat. Second, okra grows really well for me here in this Texas heat....my okra grows well over 6 feet tall. So tall that I have to gently bend the stalks to harvest the pods. Third, each year I grow more varieties. This year I’m growing Jambalaya, Red Burgundy, Clemson Spineless, and Longhorn. Next year, I plan on adding Blondie and Silver Queen. I grow a lot of okra because my family loves okra in our gumbo, fried, stewed, sautéed, baked and, for me, raw! Okra is a staple in my Spring/Summer garden!”
The Okra Lady’s tips for growing:
"I let my soil rest in between seasons. I also rotate my crops each season and amend/prepare the soil based on the crops I plan to grow in each specific spots. For okra, I amend the soil by adding worm castings, calcium nitrate, compost and, most importantly, make sure it’s in a spot that gets full sun. I prune my okra plants by “whooping” them. I do this by yanking/snapping the leaves that I want to remove. I heard that this method stresses the plant and causes it to produce more pods. I can definitely tell you that it makes it easier for me to harvest because I usually end up with 40 or so plants in my okra forest!”
The Okra Lady was introduced to gardening by her father when she was a teenager,
"I considered it a chore back then, but now, I look back on those memories fondly. Gardening relaxes me and eases the pain of losing my parents, especially my father, a few years ago. I started out by growing store bought pepper and tomato plants in 5-gallon buckets before upgrading to a raised bed. Now, I direct sow everything directly into the ground. Yes, direct sowing takes longer, but it's fulfilling knowing that nothing in my garden has been "miracle grow'd".
My mother would scold me for playing with my food, and now I find myself creating art with my harvests.
When it comes to garden inspiration and advice:
"I love watching the Old Alabama Gardener on YouTube. I have learned so much from his channel.
My advice to people wanting to be more self-sufficient and grow their own food is to 1) Do the research. 2) Don't waste valuable time and start as soon as possible.
I've been growing my own food for three years now, and I hope my children follow suit. I'm currently taking an online course through the LSU AgCenter for a Home Gardening Certificate, and I plan on enrolling in more gardening courses once this one is completed.”
Thank you Okra Lady for sharing your story with us! You’ve inspired us to try growing okra again and add a little style to our garden clothes.