Okra the star shaped plant

in Cross Culturelast year

Having a star shaped cross-section Okra or Okro, Abelmoschus esculentus, known in many English-speaking countries as ladies' fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of West African, Ethiopian, and South Asian origins.

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(A 3 month old okra stern in my mother’s farm)

Cultivation pattern

In Nigeria where I’m from, Okra can be conveniently cultivated biannually most years depending on the rain fall pattern, even though it’s preferable season for planting is by November; when the rains are stopping, to introduce the Harmattan season which lasts till around mid March.

Since it is not a water-intensive crop, it gives maximum yield when planted in seasons of low humidity especially in consideration of the poor drainage condition prevalent in my country.


The planting process my family adopted for subsistent use

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(2 month old okra plants I planted for my mother in her home farm)

  • In an upland with any good planting soil, after light tilling is done 2 to 4 seeds are planted.

  • Starting from as little as 50cl of water per hole and appropriately increasing till as much as 1-1.5 liters per day when they are mature and bearing fruit in 3months time

  • Weeds around the plant must be trimmed or handpicked frequently to encourage proper growth of the plant.

  • A month after planting, till the earth around the plants to free up the roots for better reach underneath.(try to do this without damaging the roots). This helps them grow better.

  • Also dead leaves should be placed around the base of the plant as a form of manure for the growing plant . But be careful not to put too much that may overwhelm the plant.


DID YOU KNOW?


Leaves and seeds

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Young okra leaves may be cooked in a similar way to the greens of beets or dandelions, or in salads. Okra seeds may be roasted and ground to form a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. When importation of coffee was disrupted by the American Civil War in 1861, the Austin State Gazette said, "An acre of okra will produce seed enough to furnish a plantation with coffee in every way equal to that imported from Rio."

Greenish-yellow edible okra oil is pressed from okra seeds; it has a pleasant taste and odor, and is high in unsaturated fats such as oleic acid and linoleic acid. The oil content of some varieties of the seed is about 40%. At 794 kg/ha, the yield was exceeded only by that of sunflower oil in one trial.
A 1920 study found that a sample contained 15% oil.

Industrial uses

Bast fibre from the stem of the plant has industrial uses such as the reinforcement of polymer composites. The mucilage produced by the okra plant can be used for the removal of turbidity from wastewater by virtue of its flocculant properties.
Having composition similar to a thick polysaccharide film, okra mucilage is under development as a biodegradable food packaging, as of 2018. A 2009 study found okra oil suitable for use as a biofuel.


Now for my favorite uses of okra
*

OKRA SOUP

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source

A renowned Nigerian cuisine made usually with diced okra mixed in a heavenly combo with epithet or all of the following; meat, fish, snail, seafood(prawns and shrimps), pumpkin leafs and other popular garnishes like periwinklesand others.

Most times it is taken with a cassava based product locally called Garri


The okra plant is a very important plant economically speaking because it is cheap and easily cultivatable, does not require much attention relatively. With a 100x50 piece of land you can plant enough okra for personal uses and sales of about $10-$20 daily.

Most subsistent farmers never fail to plant this star-shaped wonder when it’s in season.
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You need a brilliant okra soup recipe?
Watch this video


Sources and references
wikipedia

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Hope some one day this vegetables is used in !PIZZA.

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I have been growing a variety in Ghana that is longer and skinnier without any star shape at all. They have done very well into the dry season. Yesterday I harvested the last of the dried fingers to collect the seeds for the next planting season. I got about 10kg of Okra this last season and I am sure I will increase this season. Nice post.

Yeah, the okra this dry season is doing well since the weather has been very nice over here too. My mum’s Okras are about to run out though so we’re now collecting dry ones for next season.

Our okras here very big on some seasons, but this time they were a bit average. Still they did quite well.

I’m not sure we’ll be planting mid year but I’m hoping we do.