Gather around kiddies for another Fairegarden How To instructional blog post. Today we will be making a wreath decorated with okra, Abelmoschus esculentus pods. This must begin with the growing of the okra. Some people may prefer to eat their okra, but here it is considered an ornamental, for the flowers and the pods themselves.
Over the last two years seeds were sown outside after the soil was nice and warm of A. ‘Pitre’s Short Red Bush Cowhorn’ in 2009 and A. ‘Bowling Red’ in 2010. The Cowhorn pods, above, were much larger but not red.
The Bowling was red, but the pods were quite small, good for cooking, not as good for wreath making, but those two crops provided a variety of sized pods for the wreath. The pods from last year have been in the shed awaiting reinforcements to make a nice display for the front door with a harvest theme for fall. Our seed source, Baker Creek, advised to allow the pods to remain on the plants until they become leathery, but not crispy dry. The pods are now ready. Let us proceed.
We begin by going to the workspace outside. There is an old plastic table under the garage second story deck where all projects are executed. The extra metal from the roofing was fastened under the deck floor to provide a mostly waterproof place to craft. A piece of styrofoam that was used in electronics packaging makes a perfect work surface. The pods are gathered from the shed where they have been stored and dried. Each pod stem is trimmed for a neat appearance. They are inspected for cracks, as above, where the seeds have been collected by very carefully prying the pod open to allow the little balls to roll out.
Each pod is coated with water based clear polyurethane. The smaller ones can be immersed, the larger ones brushed. They could also be painted, if you so desire, and then given the poly protective coating. I prefer the natural colors that nature provides.
The pods now need to be prepared so they can be fastened to the wreath form. The stem end was pierced with a seamstress pin. Having the styrofoam underneath makes pushing the pin through much easier. Rotate the pin around several times to make the hole slightly larger, being careful to not split the stem.
We are using copper 24 gauge wire to fasten the pods. The enlarged pinhole is just the right size for the wire. I like to use copper for it doesn’t rust. Long term, if and when the pods decompose or are no longer wanted, the wire can be saved and reused. The pods themselves could be displayed in a bowl or basket as well, that is why we have taken the time to use the poly, to help preserve them from the elements since this wreath will be hung outdoors on a covered porch.
We have used three pods together on each piece of wire. Since the okra is different sizes, we used a small, medium and large for each grouping. The wire is about seven inches long and twisted together to hold the pods while the rest are so treated.
Here they are, ready to be attached to the wreath. You can use any type of wreath form, store bought or homemade. There are lots of trimmings from the garden here and many are woven into wreaths while they are still pliable for future projects. Willow is especially good for wreaths since it grows long pieces without branching. It is good for basket making as well. There are three Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ shrubs that are cut to the ground each spring, coppiced, to keep them small and for the white and pink leaves of the new growth. I believe the wreath form used for the okra is this willow.
Here is the wreath hanging on the front door, a harvest welcome. More items could be added, or ribbon or whatever else you so desire. I am a bit of a purist and like the simplicity of it as is. I also like knowing that we grew everything on it but the wire. As mentioned before, it can be disassembled with the pods and wire reused in other ways. For now, it is perfect.
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