I was recently very pleased to connect with another gardener in Singapore who is as interested as I am in growing edible plants. While I’ve been growing local varieties of fruits and vegetables, Novice Gardener has been much more adventurous and has been growing different varieties of some of the same vegetables. After exchanging seeds with each other, we’ve expanded each others’ repertoire of plants, and now I have – of all things – burgundy okra plants growing in the garden!
I decided to experiment with a pair of plants, to start with. By all appearances, they looked like regular okra plants. The only exception was that the stems and main leaf veins were a nice, deep red colour.
They remind me of roselle plants, actually, with the red stems and lobed green leaves.
When burgundy-coloured flower buds started forming, I couldn’t wait to see how the flowers would differ from regular green okra plants. Yes, I know I could have looked that up online, but where’s the adventure in that?
Interestingly to me, the flowers didn’t differ that much at all, with the exception of the shade of colour of the base of the petals and stigma – the burgundy okra is more red while the regular okra is more purple.
The okra fruits start off green, but soon take on the rich burgundy shade as they mature. Compared to my local green okra fruits, these were narrower, with a flared base at the stem. I was so fascinated watching the first two fruits grow that I plucked them a little too late. My guide to harvesting okras is to test the tip of the fruit – once it starts feeling a little stiff, I know it’s almost too late to take them for eating. Unfortunately, these first two burgundy okras weren’t fit to eat (I tried), so I know I’ll have to harvest them sooner the next time.
The good news is, the second plant has yet to reach maturity, so between the pair of plants, we should continue to get a nice supply of red okras for a while more – and I have more seeds yet to sow… Thanks, Novice G, for the new, conversation-piece okra plants!