Consider Motherland Okra in 2023

By David Wall, Mount Pleasant Master Garden

One of the more fun crops to raise is okra. Historically, Clemson spineless has been the variety to grow or purchase. Its main limitation has been it needs to be picked at a maximum of 4” in length. Recent years have seen new varieties such as Jambalaya that produces more pods per stalk. Burgundy that remains edible out to 8”; and a Louisiana variety that’s good out to 16”!!!

Well, there’s a variety I’m going to sample in 2023 called the motherland okra. It’s an heirloom variety that supposedly came out of Nigeria in the 1700-1800s and doesn’t look like any okra you’ve ever seen. It’s a very reliable and productive staple there.

My Clemson and burgundy plants in good soil reached heights of 10’ this year. Fortunately, the plants easily tolerate being bent over to reach the pods in their upper portions. That’s good, because motherland okra plants can reach 15’!!! On top of that, the leaves are edible and grow to elephant ear size! In Africa, the leaves are traditionally made into soup.

For those concerned about trying a new variety, when Clemson seed packs contain hundreds of seeds, relax. Motherland seed packets come with 10 seeds. The quantity will probably rise and the cost come down ($6 per packet) as its popularity grown in future years. Seeds are hard to find, and Baker Creek Seeds seems to be the only current source.

The okra pod is gigantic compared to Clemson pods. Though limited to the same size 4” as many other okra species, the pods are several times the diameter. It’s like taking 4-5 Clemson pods and putting them all in a new single pod. Google motherland okra to see.

Planting conditions are similar to other varieties. Soak seeds for 24 hours before planting. Plant 18” apart.

Author: Ethan Klein

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