When all danger from frost is over, the okra can be sown, and if the Summer is warm there will generally be a fine crop. If the Summer is cold, okra frequently does not bear in the North. It should be gathered about a week after flowering. Be sure that the pods are crisp and snap easily, as when large they become woody and uneatable. When more okra ripens than can be readily used, it may be cut in thin slices and dried for Winter use.
A friend once sent me from Charleston a great basket of okra, so fresh that it seemed impossible for it to have been two days en route. With it she sent a receipt for gumbo soup that her colored cook had given her. I give the receipt and am sure that once tried it will become a favorite dish. It will readily be seen that gumbo soup so prepared is almost a meal in itself. The soup takes four hours to make. Put into a kettle two pounds of lean soup beef, one-half a chicken which has been jointed, a small ham bone, or a good sized slice of lean bacon, a slice of green pepper, and a square inch of onion. Add three quarts of water and boil or simmer gently, skimming often for two hours. At the end of this time add a quart and a half of okra which has first been cut in slices and fried lightly in the smallest quantity of butter possible, and add also a large potato cut in pieces, which gradually breaks and thickens the soup. An hour later, after frequent skimming, add a full quart of tomatoes and the corn cut from two large ears, and also the cobs, and continue to boil gently for yet another hour. Then remove the piece of beef, or whatever is left of it, and also the corn cobs, cut the meat from the chicken bones, returning the chicken to the soup, add ateaspoonful of sugar, a teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce, salt and cayenne pepper to flavor, and the soup is ready. Some rice boiled very dry should be served at the same time, that those who wish may add a spoonful of it to their soup. I have been told that the Creoles generally take the gumbo at the midday dejeuner, having first some fruit, then the soup, afterwards a salad, followed by cheese and coffee, which is certainly an ideal meal for a Summer's day.
Sow okra seed thinly in rows eighteen inches apart and two inches deep and thin the plants out to eight inches apart. I use the White Velvet variety and find that a quarter of a pound of seed gives an ample number of plants.