The Heritage Farm Collection: 'Padgett' Okra

The ‘Heritage Farm Collection’ debuted in the 2012 Seed Savers Exchange catalog and illustrates our latest efforts to move varieties from our seed vault to America’s dinner table.

The histories shared in the print catalog are a condensed summary of the full story. We have often collected a more complete history. We hope you enjoy this blog series, in which we publish full portraits of the varieties we are introducing (or re-introducing) in 2016.

Okra- 'Padgett'

  • Green plants with red leaf veins and red leaf stems

  • Pale green pods are prickly, short, and stocky with 8 to 9 ridges

  • Very fruity flavor - a staff favorite at SSE

Lois Padgett of Arkansas donated this okra to SSE in 2004. In 2012, SSE was able to get in touch with her again to learn more about its history.

Lois began growing this variety shortly after she and her husband Jim married in 1952. It was given to them by Jim’s grandmother, Nancy Williams, who grew it since at least the 1940s near Ethel, Arkansas. Lois believed this okra had been in her husband’s family for generations, but did not know specific details. Lois Padgett passed away in 2013 and grew ‘Padgett’ Okra for over 50 years. We are grateful she shared it with Seed Savers Exchange.

Put it on the dinner table!

This variety works for

  • Baking
  • Frying
  • Soup
  • Pickling

Okra has a reputation for its slimy texture, but when it is cooked properly it is a delicious addition to your summer meals.

Chop your okra into half inch long pieces, dip in Buttermilk, coat in a flour and cornmeal mixture, fry and drain it for a crispy treat. You can also try a lentil and okra curry or create a traditional Louisiana gumbo.

Grow it!

You should start plants indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date for transplanting them into the garden. Plant seedlings outdoors 2-4 weeks after your last expected frost.

Space your plants or seeds 6-8 inches apart in well fertilized soil. Plant your seeds 1/4-3/4 in. deep.

Make sure that your soil is well fertilized as this crop is a heavy feeder and takes a lot of nutrients from the soil. Consider adding compost to the soil the year before you plant.

These plants prefer warm weather and soil so they should be grown when temperatures are over 68 degrees F.

The CORE Project

This project represents the efforts of our Preservation program to document our Collection through the Evaluation and the Collection Origins Research Effort (CORE).

The CORE project began in 2011. It is an effort to record the Collection’s cultural history by gathering, documenting, and sharing stewardship history. Our comprehensive Evaluation program began in 2010. Evaluation staff document Collection growouts, including morphological traits, photographs, taste evaluation, and purity assessment. These programs converge to give us a rich portrait of individual varieties in our Collection.

When we identify varieties with both a compelling story and outstanding performance traits, they are ‘short listed’ for consideration in the ‘Heritage Farm Collection.’ Most ‘Heritage Farm Collection’ introductions are either family heirlooms or historic commercial varieties that faded from commerce.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.