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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
The flowers on an okra plant are a beautiful addition to any garden.

Pick okra at its optimum size

Some of my okra was rather woody. I didn't have this problem last year, so I thought it was the heat. I then got to thinking that okra loves the heat, so that couldn't be the issue.

Some research indicated that if okra grows past the intended size it will become woody. The indicated size varies depending on the variety of okra, so I had to track down the seed pack. The ideal size for the okra in my garden is 4-6 inches. I am finding that with this heat that I should pick to okra when it is 4 inches because it will grow to 6 inches within 24 hours.

I also learned that picking okra before it reaches the optimum size range will take away its flavor.

Friends are always asking how I cook okra to make it edible. Fresh okra from the garden that is picked before it becomes woody can be added to a salad uncooked. I also stir fry it for a short amount of time. Steaming it makes okra slimy. Above all, never eat it from a can.

Journey through gardening season with Rosa Salter Rodriguez (feature writer), Anne Gregory (Web editor and writer), Frank Noonan (copy editor) and Cathie Rowand (photographer)