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Mama Payton's Okra

Mama Payton's Okra

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Mama Payton's
Abelmoschus esculentus

70 days — 'Mama Payton's' is an old family heirloom sent in to us by Brian Payton of Trion, Georgia. Brian told us that in his garden, the plants are productive, grow from six to twelve feet tall and produce huge, tasty pods.

The history of 'Mama Payton's' began when Brian's paternal grandparents, Arthur and Carrie Payton, were married in 1917 in Cherokee County, Alabama. Brian's father said that they were given the seed shortly after they were married, probably by other family members, and raised this one variety of okra exclusively; A tradition carried on in the Payton family ever since. In closing the letter that he sent to us, Brian said, "My grandmother passed away in January of 1997. One month before her 100th birthday. I think it would have made her happy that someone was interested [in the okra]."

Although here in Oregon, with our cooler and shorter growing season, the plants did not have the opportunity to develop to such heights. However, we can personally confirm that the plants are productive and the pods are spectacular. Our friend, David Pendergrass, grew out our seed stock for us on his farm in Tennessee where it grew six feet tall or larger. Introduced commercially by us in 2017 ... 100 years after Mr. and Mrs. Payton received the seeds. Each packet contains two grams, which is approximately 30 seeds.
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Planting Instructions: Sow seeds ¾ inches deep directly in the garden after the soil has warmed or start seeds in pots and transplant after all danger of frost has passed.

Since okra has tough seed coats, you can either scarify or soak seeds prior to sowing to help improve germination. When soaking the seeds, use warm (but not hot) water and only for 4 to 6 hours.

After the plants are about two inches tall, thin them to a spacing of one plant every eighteen inches, removing the weakest looking plants in the process.

Harvest the pods when young and tender. Older pods become tough and fibrous. If the pods are allowed to mature, the plant will cease production. Okra thrives in warm weather and is used in soups, stews, boiled or fried.