- Author: Tina Saravia
I love perennial vegetables. I have a few of them that I planted once and harvest from year after year - artichokes, asparagus, tree Kale ‘Pentland Brig,' tree collards. I also have Swiss chard, pepper plants, and one eggplant that over-wintered or did not die in the winter. I also have blue potatoes that pop up everywhere due to re-planting them in several places over the years and not digging up all the pieces. I consider them my friendly weeds.
But like a lot of gardeners, I like to try and challenge myself to grow new plants, or I have plain garden envy. I also like to eat a variety of vegetables. I really can only eat so much kale and collards every day. But I found out that, like last year, a lot of seed companies are behind in their shipments. The seed companies have been doing well because more people are gardening during the lockdown. I searched around and came upon an Oakland-based seed company that will deliver in a few days. How awesome! They specialize in Asian vegetables.
Meanwhile, my brother asked me if I could sow some okra (Abelmoschus escutentus) seeds for him. They had bought a packet of ‘Red Burgundy.' I couldn't say no to my little brother who makes the best gumbo. A few days later, my neighbor down the street brought me a bag of freshly picked cilantro that he planted in the perimeter of his backyard. He also brought a packet of seeds and asked me if I could sow okra ‘Clemson Spineless.” How could I say no? His wife makes the best dal in Solano County, maybe California.
While waiting for my shipment, I decided to inventory my seed collection. I noticed I still have ‘Star of David' okra from last year. So I sowed them also. I soaked the seeds overnight and planted them in little paper pots - 3 in each pot. I have enough seeds to spare.
Here's a link from UC California Garden Web https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/okra.pdf.
It's a really good resource. The seed packets have instructions for when and how to plant. But none of them says anything about soaking the seeds before planting.
My new seeds came in the mail a couple of days later. I enthusiastically opened the envelope, and there it was, in the midst of all my Asian vegetables — a packet of okra. I am declaring this year in my garden the ‘Year of the Okra.'
Nothing will be wasted, there's a new seed library at the JFK Library in Vallejo. I can donate my excess seeds to them.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano takes garden produce donations at their warehouse in Fairfield. So far, I've dropped off 22 lbs of collard greens this year.
The okra seeds are sown, time to move on to the next ones.