stewarts zeebest okra

krussow(6A)April 2, 2011

Where do you get yours....i have found a few places BUT its a little more expencive than i wanted to pay...

$2.50 for 70 seeds... and i have 100 ft rows... so i would like to get enough seeds to plant 1 row.. i already have the seeds for the other.. i am planting a burgundy variety also..

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Seventy seeds of Stewart's Zeebest will more than plant a 100' row. Actually, with modest spacing of 4' between plants, 25 seeds (well, let's say 30 or 35 since you might not have 100% germination) of Stewart's Zeebest will plant that row.

Most okra grows like a somewhat bushy tree. Stewart's Zeebest, with spacing of 4 to 6' feet between the plants will grow like a big thick, wide, gigantic bushy tree and will produce more pods than you can pick. I used 4' spacing last year, I think, and they were too close to one another to spread out as much as they wanted. I'm going to plant fewer plants this year and use 6' spacing.

"Texas Gardener" magazine had an okra article in their May 2009 issue and there was a sidebar about Stewart's Zeebest. Unfortunately, this small regional magazine doesn't maintain an online archive, but I'll tell you what I remember about Zeebest.

Houston gardeners, George and Mary Stewart (both now deceased), selected the seeds of Stewart's Zeebest from another okra. I think it may have been Louisiana Green Velvet, but my memory is a bit fuzzy on that. They selected for years and years, selecting for heavy production and tender pods. They wanted the big, wide, bushy plants with heavy branching because those plants produce the most.

In Mary Stewart's gardening notes, which she shared with the writer of the article, she had recorded that the mother plant from which they originally had saved their first seed produced 28 branches and 243 pods. They then continued to save seed every year, roguing out any plants that didn't have the wide branching structure and saving seed from many plants, not just one.

Dr. Bob Randall, the now-retired co-founder of Urban Harvest in Houston and a friend of the Stewarts says that anyone saving seed of Stewart's Zeebest needs to know that non-branching is a dominant trait, so if you are going to save seed from Stewart's Zeebest, you need to rogue out all non-branching plants and grow and save seed only from the branching ones. Also, in the interest of maintaining genetic diversity, you should save seed from as many branching plants as possible---he recommended 50. Maintaining genetic diversity is important because without it, OP seeds runs out....losing the very characteristics over time that had made it worth growing.

I've purchased seed from both Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and both grew equally well. Both companies usually put more seed in their packets than the amount stated in their catalogs, and I would bet that I had 100 seeds in the packets from each company, or maybe more.

I've linked a photo of George's Stewart's Zeebest okra plant. Look at how wide it is? Can you even tell where one plant ends and another begins?

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: MacMex's Stewart Zeebest photo

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 1:30PM
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quailhunter

I read so much about this variety on here that I dediced to try it this year. I bought it from Southern Exposure. You could look at it as an initial investment. Unless you have neighbors growing okra, you could let some pods dry and get all the seed you want for next year.

I'm going to do as Dawn suggested. Go from two rows of Clemson Spineless to one row of Stewart's. Space them a little wider than normal and I bet I'll get more than I did from the two rows of Clemson I normally plant. Also, I got tired of them being tough after they were a few inches long.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 4:11PM
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