Tororo-Aoi Pods Ripening

img_0364The seed pods on my tororo-aoi plants have started to mature. As this happens, they turn brown, dry out, and develop splits along their five lengthwise ridges. The seeds inside are probably dry and ready for storage for next spring. In the spring I will probably test germination of these seeds, the (by then) year-old ones I bought, and also fresh ones from Richter’s.

Each plant seems to have typically produced five pods, and while the bottom ones are maturing, the topmost ones are still green. The plants grew a single stem, with only feeble attempts at making side shoots. A review of tips for growing okra (a close relative) implies that allowing the pods to mature will cause the plant to stop flowering. Next year I’ll try picking the pods as soon as the flowers drop to see if I get more (immature) pods and/or a bushier plant.

The plants I grew from the seeds bought through AliExpress are just developing flower buds now, but this morning, after a couple of weeks of unusually hot late-September weather, there was frost on the rooftops, so it is unlikely that these plants will produce any pods.

I harvested two of the the green pods from the top of the plants, chopped them up, and put them in water to see if they produced usable neri.

img_0366These pods were tough, fibrous, and had very little sap in them. After soaking for a while, the water indeed showed the characteristics of formation aid, but it was not strong enough to be useful. One pod in 500ml (2 cups) of water produced a bit of stringiness and self-siphoning but was not quite enough to feel slimy when you rubbed it on your fingers. It was closer to the consistency one would want in the vat rather than in a concentrate to add to the vat.

Harvesting the pods soon after they form, rather than allowing them to grow to full size, might have given pods with much more sap in them and so stronger neri. This would be something else to try next year, hand-in-hand with picking the immature pods early to encourage more flowers and perhaps more plant growth.

5 comments on “Tororo-Aoi Pods Ripening
  1. anonymous coward says:

    it is worrisome that you bought plants on Aliexpress. So those were not quarantined, but came from China? Are you aware of the risks that poses to our ecosystem? Plant diseases and such?
    I hope others do not try to imitate your example.
    I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh. I’m afraid it should be. I wish there are sources of seed here, they all came from other countries, but at least those already here have done their damage already, the problem is with those that are coming, we don’t know what they carry… Maybe you could sell seed to others, again, once they are here, we sigh, and move on…

    • kpmartin says:

      I didn’t approve this comment right away, hoping to write up a good reply first, but then forgot about it for a year…

      My general feeling here is that these plants are very closely related to okra, and we sometimes get fresh okra imported from China in our grocery stores, so any disease or pest that this plant family might carry would be here already (or even have originated here).

      I feel I should ask Anonymous Coward if *they* are aware of the risks this poses to our ecosystem? Have they analyzed them? What are the various possible outcomes and what are their chances?

  2. Thanks for this insight! I hope to try and grow some in the forthcoming season.

  3. Hello! I read all of your posts about Tororo-aoi, I’m looking forward to hearing about your root crop. Did you manage to grow the plant?

    Best regards

    • kpmartin says:

      This particular attempt did not produce any useful roots. The plants were too spindly and weak to get much root growth. Perhaps if I had removed the spent flowers so the plant didn’t put energy into making the pods the roots might have been bigger but even then I doubt they would have been worth keeping.

      About 15 or 20 years ago I grew some tororo-aoi in the vegetable garden at my previous house, and set up a frame of old window panes around it to forma greenhouse of sorts. These were from seeds that I got at some hand papermaking get-together, perhaps the 2005 IAPMA/FDH conference in Banff, Alberta, so they were definitely for the correct variety for making neri. I guess I had about 4 or 5 strong plants, with stems about as thick as my thumb and roots to match, although very stout, the plants being maybe only about 18″ tall. We didn’t use all the roots at the time and I think I still have some in my freezer.

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