More Okra stuff

In the previous post I mentioned that I was growing two varieties of Okra. When I picked the Start of David I must have missed the Annie Oakley or it grew overnight. In either case, this picture shows the difference between the two varieties. I’m making a side dish tonight that will combine these with other garden goodies – specifically Louisiana Long eggplant, Marconi grilling peppers and White Wing onions. I saute these in a little olive oil, pour in some tomato sauce and season with fresh oregano and basel. Oila! I’ve made this dish a few times sans okra but can’t see any reason why that won’t just add a little something to the mix.
People visiting the garden these days are blown away and several of these visitors are people who know something about gardening. I knew it was much nicer than in the past but apparently it’s now unbelievable. An August garden in Florida is a burned out wasteland waiting a month or two for replant. Mine is full, green and putting out plenty of veggies. The first thing people say is “you must just be pouring water on it all the time”. Nope, mostly natural rain watering or via a 15 minute spot watering about 6PM. I know what the difference is but it’s even surprising me. Florida soil is almost completely sand so water runs right through it, no retention at all. My soil is now almost completely organic material from the surface to nominally 18” deep. If you dig down a foot or so, it’s moist. Although I don’t have any measurements, I suspect my soil is also cooler and that too may be part of the success. I don’t think it’s the nutrients because most Florida gardeners pour fertilizer in prodigious quantities so if it was just nutrients, they’d have great gardens. They also comment that I must spend hours weeding because there are virtually no weeds. One thing that does grow here in summer gardens are the weeds and is the thing that drives most gardeners back in the house. For me, basically no weeds. I think the answer must again be organic soil and the fact that I am not pounding it with water hours a day. I try to keep a leaf layer on the surface which fairly well keeps any growing media from the surface so my theory is that the wind carried weed seeds have nothing to root into. I think in the end, they simply don’t believe me and assume I’m out there 24/7 watering and weeding. I’m ok with that.

It’s also interesting that I’m having no bug problems. Usually by May I’m spraying whatever it is I can find that has a skull and crossbones to kill off the evil borers, leaf eaters, or whatever manner of attack bugdom throws at us. And normally my chemical defense or offense is totally useless and I end up splitting the crop about 50/50 with the creepy crawlers. No problems at all this year. I guess it’s possible that the plants are so healthy they have natural anti bug mechanisms at work. Maybe healthy leaves are too tough or taste bad. What I think more likely, the dry summer we’ve had is not conducive to insect life. We basically did not have a yellow fly season or a love bug season this year (so far). Works for me.

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