Veggie Families – The Mallow Family

Okra
Okra

While this family is formally called the Malvaceae family, you will hear it called the Mallow family.  Cotton is a member of this family, but I don’t grow it!  I do grow another family member which is okra.  I didn’t start liking okra until I had fried okra at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant – now I am hooked!  If you click on this fried okra link, you can see how we make it.

Hibiscus Flower from burpee.com
Hibiscus Flower from burpee.com

There are some flowers that are members of this family.  A flower you probably have seen from this family is called hibiscus.  The hibiscus flower looks like the flower on the okra plant.  Hibiscus is a perennial around Pittsburgh, PA (zone 5) even though it is very tropical looking.

Since the mallow family is a heat loving family, okra does best in full sun and doesn’t need a ton of water.  It is not very fussy about nutrients.  You can give it fish emulsion or seaweed once a month.   If you live in the north, you may want to start your seedlings indoors around 5 weeks before your last frost.

When rotating crops, this family should not follow the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, etc).  We will be talking about rotating soon – I promise!

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