Okra Hedges, Sweet Corn all Summer, and Succesions for Warm-Season Crops

| 6/16/2012 3:23:44 PM

Tags: Corn, Lettuce, Okra, Gumbo, Succession planting, Southern Gardening, Gardening in the Southeast, Ira Wallace,

hill country heirloom red okra becks big buck okra 

I was already working on a piece about direct sowing warm season crops when what should pop up but a great tip from Adrian Higgins at the Washington Post about sowing an okra hedge as a decorative and functional edge. It was exciting that Adrian listed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange as a source of heirloom okra seeds. Don’t worry if you don’t have room for a hedge. A small family only needs a few plants to be well supplied with fresh okra if it is harvested regularly.

For those looking toward more self-sufficiency, okra has hidden value: the seed pods contain up to 15% oil and in recent trials was only out yielded by sunflower seeds. During the Civil War ground okra seed was roasted and used as a non-caffeinated coffee substitute. All of that, plus gumbo, makes okra a vegetable well worth adding to your garden. The plants keep producing all summer, so you only need to sow once for harvests all season.

The soil has finally warmed up enough for direct sowing warm season crops like corn, beans and zucchini. But don't plant your whole crop at once. Take some hints from Barbara Damrosch on making succession plantings to have a steady supply of these popular crops all summer.

grey zucchinicrookneck squash 

Optimizing your planting and harvest will take a few years of paying attention to first planting date, last planting date, how long harvests last, and also noting how you use the crop in the kitchen. You’ll soon have a plan that’s perfect for your family. Fortunately, you don't have to wait to get started with succession plantings. You can use info from your the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner, your local extension office or Master Gardener group on planting dates and expected yields. Southern Exposure has a guide to warm-season successions.

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