For the most part, after my children were grown, my Christmas-giving has been even more low-key than it was when my children were growing up.[I've always given people what I want to, not because I have to, and certainly never because they asked for it. The only exceptions I made to not fulfilling requests were to my children when they were under the ages of 18 and when I could afford it.]. Unless you are a kid, I think it is downright rude to ask for what you want for Christmas.
I'm only giving 15 gifts this year to a few family members and very close friends.They each will get a pound of pecans per friend (2 pounds per couple) and a peace rock*. The local ones will also get a tomato transplant that I started from seed a few weeks ago. Nothing shouts "hope" quite as loudly as a tomato transplant in December in North Texas.
I was going to plant seeds for a papaya tree earlier but just didn't get around to it. Papaya trees are not outdoor hardy for North Texas but they have a very fast growing season and will produce fruit within the first 7 or 8 months. Thus, in one of my many horticultural experiments, I am planting several seeds within the next week and by July or August I expect papayas. When all danger of frost is gone, I'll plant them down at our community garden. Then before the first frost we will dig them up and give them to people who would like to have an indoor papaya tree.
*Peace rocks are part of an exhibit that I hope Charlie and I will be able to install at the Garland Community Garden this weekend. I have painted a sign with the world PEACE that will have lights and a box of peace rocks I painted along with permanent markers for those who wish to write their message for peace on the rock and commit to being their word throughout the coming year and beyond.


Those who know me well, know that among other things I am somewhat of an okra aficionado. This year I grew approximately 250 pounds of okra in 8 five-gallon buckets. [I'll have to check my exact figures as I kept records.]

I planted them around the 15 of April and they started producing in May. My last harvest was on November 15. Okra needs to be cut about every two days. It is quite prolific.

I conducted this okra-growing experiment to prove to folks that even if you live in a city with little growing space, you can still grow a substantial amount of food. I chose okra because it is drought tolerant, requires no fertilizer, has no pest enemies, and seems to thrive on neglect. The only requirements it has are sunlight and heat--the two main natural resources in Texas after oil and gas of course.

Average retail market prices for okra range between $3.45/kg in the frozen form to $7.07/kg when sold fresh [about $3.50 a pound for fresh okra].

 Over the course of the past 7 months I have saved 200 pods for next year. Thus, I have a few thousand okra seeds.

Yesterday I hung a wreath on my front door, and on a whim, I added a stem of okra pods--lovely as you can see for yourself in the attached. photo. Then I wondered if perhaps others had used okra seed pods Christmas decorations so I googled "okra Christmas decorations" and got my answer in a few seconds.  Just as I suspected. Using okra pods for Christmas decorations was not my original concept. For example, there are Santa Clauses made from Okra pods. Don't laugh. These ornaments have considerable market value as they sell for $10 each on Etsy.


To summarize, my limited urban farm of eight, 10-gallon buckets of okra plants yielded approximately $700 in value of Okra to eat. If the 200 seed pods I saved were converted into Christmas decorations, that would be an additional value of $2,000.

Who would think that 8 five-gallon buckets, a little soil and 8 okra seeds could be the raw materials for creating a food and product value of $2,700?


NOW, if I still have your attention, consider this: What if responsible adult(s) undertook a project with high school students. 1. Create an Okra Cooperative (a business model that we need more of in this country). This would be a great education into the operation of this type of business. 2. Obtain two to four acres of unused land owned by your city. 3. Borrow a tractor from a local implement dealer or perhaps the city. 4. Plow the field. 5. Plant the Okra in mid to late April if you live in Texas. 5. Figure out how you will package the crop and get it to market, advertising, allocation of work schedules among co-op members, etc.