2013 Flowers, Grains, etc. (end of season notes)

Okra: attractive plants, good okra – research germination anomalies, warm soil before planting?
Sunflowers: did well this year – grow same variety next year?
Three Sisters bed:  better than last year, but the squash plants needed more sun, and the beans pulled the corn over – move the corn & beans to the center of the bed with the squash around the outside, plant squash same time as other squashes, plant beans 1 week later next year.

Okra and Air Conditioning

I don't have air-conditioning at home.  Some summers, there are a handful of days where, to sleep at night, I have to run a fan drafting air directly over me from toe to head.  Last summer I did, but this summer not yet.

Last summer, our "dwarf" okra grew over six feet tall.  This summer it seems resigned to at most two feet.  I think it's the lack of truly hot nights that has held back the okra:  it just hasn't triggered it's growth spurt.  It's already beginning to flower, so I think now it's too late.

Plants can "observe" their environment, and integrate (sum up and average) such things as daylight and temperature, by accumulating certain chemicals.  When they build up enough, that triggers a change.  Quite possibly, okra is observing the average temperature, and nightly lows, in order to decide whether to switch to giant growth mode.

So next year, let's hope I have a few insufferably hot nights in July, so our smart okra decides it's okay to be a giant!



Okra and "Rose of Sharon": Separated at Birth?

(Note the growing okra pod, red arrow.  It will probably be ready to harvest in a week or so.)


 A few months ago, we thought the okra in the Garden was not going to make it but now, in early fall, it is thriving!  It’s over 5 ft tall and, as Elisabeth noted in her recent post, seems to be at a peak.  Each day we can harvest a few okra, maybe three or four. We probably know them best as a key component to gumbos, they add a unique texture (some call it “slimy”).  Some of my fellow gardeners love them, and some run screaming from them...though I don’t seek them out, I personally have no issue with them.  I’d take a few okra over a watermelon – even one of our adorable miniature ones – any day.  Vegetable controversies aside, the blossoms are truly gorgeous!  When I mentioned how much they reminded me of those on shrubs I’d planted in my yard, somebody at the garden (..might have been CGO Mike?) mentioned that okra is related to hibiscus.  Indeed, according to Wikipedia, okra is related not only to hibiscus, but to cocoa and cotton, and originated in West Africa.  And, my “Rose of Sharon”* shrub belongs to the genus hibiscus, as I already knew.  Reportedly, as I did not know, hibiscus syriacus is also the national flower of Korea (N. or S. was not specified), and its Korean name means “immortal flower”. That does not surprise me...one thing I love about these shrubs is how very long their blossoms last.

Well, as you can see in the photos there is clearly a strong family resemblance between the Okra and the Rose of Sharon.  And, by the way, like the okra, my Rose of Sharon shrubs seem to be late bloomers this year.  I’ve been watching all the round buds for weeks, wondering if they’d ever open before winter.  But, they did and now, like our okra, they seem to be at their best!

*”Rose of Sharon” is a name shared by at least two different flowering shrubs, and another plant that is referenced in the bible. 


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