The Monster Hiding in Our Garden…

The Monster Hiding in Our Garden…

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I’ve been gardening on and off for years. In Maine, I had a small garden each year consisting of pumpkins (we had an annual family pumpkin growing contest), carrots, asparagus, one apple tree, blackberry and raspberry bushes, and a few other perennials.

I gardened for part of one summer after we moved to Florida but I gave up after our water bill skyrocketed. I couldn’t keep the dirt moist enough on hot summer afternoons. I also came in each evening covered in mosquito bites. I was very sad…

We now have plenty of room in a more temperate climate (northwestern Georgia) so we can garden with GUSTO!! We have two large raised beds so far and, aside from the pumpkins and other things I’ve grown before, I decided to try my hand at growing okra. How hard can it be, right?

Well, turns out I didn’t do my research correctly. Okay, okay. I didn’t research growing okra AT ALL. The little seedings came up very quickly, and were growing so nicely!! Yesterday, we transplanted the green beans to the garden, and put round metal hoops around them. The grandbabies were here to help. Here’s what happens when you make Mackenzie share the shovel with her older brother, Jack:

We then planted the okra seedlings in the next row – not too close to the green beans but also not too far because we wanted enough rows for the rest of our seedlings (garlic, onions, and leeks) in the bed. We aren’t planning to put in more raised beds until the fall.

While I was refereeing the shovel war, I asked our daughter to research okra to see if they would need a trellis of sorts. She said no.

The next row contained the garlic plants. I DID research growing those and they’d already been “refrigerated” as bulbs so I didn’t have to wait until fall to plant them.

Last night, after the grandbabies left, I googled “growing okra” to see if they needed any special fertilizer later, after they’re established.

This is what I learned:

1. Okra is a hardy plant. Few pests like it and it grows extremely well in the south.

2. Okra grows like a bush. It does not need a trellis, or any support at all.

2. Okra can grow from three to seven feet tall. WHAT?

3. Okra can grown one to three feet wide. GAH!!

4. Okra should be at least three feet from other rows in the garden. UH OH!!!

5. Okra does not like being transplanted. If I pull it up now to move it, I might kill it all.

6. And, the best part, okra has spines that can cause burning and itching or, worse, cause an allergic reaction. In other words, IT BITES YOU before YOU can BITE IT! You must harvest it wearing gloves, and long sleeves and pants. Washing okra removes the spines. Getting the okra from the plant to the sink, however, is apparently the fun part.

We can deal with the spines but it looks like my okra is going to overrun our green beans and our garlic, onions, and leeks, the small garden fence, any small children who might be nearby…

Call me weird, but I’m excited to see what the garden monster will do!!

Several of the seeds we planted this year never came up. I’ve been saving them for years!! Our son-in-law told us that seeds only last a couple of years unless they’re refrigerated. We have lots of new seeds but far more than we have time to plant this year since we moved here so late in the growing season.

In the meantime, we are literally filling the large freezer with blackberries and blueberries. The grandbabies filled their bellies with blueberries right off the bush!

We had, of course, blueberry pancakes the following morning. Yum!!!

Oh, and we also found this critter hiding in our seedlings. Jack couldn’t WAIT to feel it tickle his hand! 😉

If any of you have advice on specific plants that grow well in this area, and that are very difficult to kill, please let me know. 😉

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Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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4 Responses to "The Monster Hiding in Our Garden…"

  1. Pamela Allegretto  July 17, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    Your grand-kids are adorable!

  2. Julia  July 16, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Angela, about saving seeds, most do not need refrigeration, though they must be dry; glass is best to store them, though we’ve also used plastic and paper (always for garlic) successfully. Other than thoroughly drying seeds (away from heat) before storing them, you will want to know that seeds have a huge viability range; some are viable only a year, e.g. parsnips, others for decades, e.g. some mallows (mine is a pink-bloomed AB native shrub), though with time germination rates decrease.

  3. Patty Callahan  July 16, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Gardening in the Garden State (NJ) was fun, and the raspberries were the sweetest, but once we hit Florida and that insane heat and high water bills, we put up grow lights in our lanai and started growing in flower pots. Grow lights in Florida – sounds crazy, but it works. Good Luck with your gardening. Love to hear about your adventures and the fun with the grandkids.

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  July 16, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      GREAT idea, Patty! I wish I’d thought of it 10 years ago!!!!! 😉

      Hugs!
      Ang