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Field of Giant Okra

Rows of Giant Okra - photo by Malcolm Beck

 

Mystery Giant Okra

When Malcolm and Delphine Beck bought their new farm in Comal County in 1968 there was an old garden fenced rabbit proof by the previous old farmer and his wife. In that garden were some remains of vegetables they grew, among them were giant, tall okra stalks with some big fat pods. Becks kept the seed and replanted the following spring.

Dried Giant Okra podAs soon as the first pods were ready Delphine picked and noticed how they readily and easily snapped off. Most okra required a knife for harvest. At the supper table the family all raved about the flavor. Beck searched all the seed catalogues but it wasn't there.

The vegetable specialists at the Ag extension had never seen it either. The old farmers wife said someone gave seeds to her aunt and it was brought over from the other country. Other than that it’s previous home was a mystery.

Time went on, The Becks grew loads of the mystery okra on their vegetable farm. No one had seen it before. The Becks even saved and cleaned 740 lbs. of the seed for a company to put it for sale into small packages. But before any sales were made the seed company went broke and the Becks never got a cent for all their work and the whole 740-lbs. were destroyed.

The Becks named their farm Garden-Ville and soon became known far and wide for their organically grown fresh vegetables but the okra got the most attention.

One day a bright yellow convertible drove up, a short, red faced elderly gentlemen wearing a big panama hat got out looking over the freshly harvested vegetable. All of a sudden in a loud surprised voice said, "Beck you got that okra," he then told how the owner of the Buck Horn Saloon when traveling in Germany discovered the okra and attempted to bring it home but customs wouldn't allow so he hid some seeds in his camera.

The old gentleman with the classy convertible and big hat identified himself as Colonel Lullelyn, a personal friend of the Buck Horn owner who offered him seeds. The Colonel said seed was also given to a Mister McGlothlin who owned a hardware store on south Presa St. in San Antonio.

It was later learned Mr. McGlothlin owned and live on a small farm only 2 miles from the Beck’s Comal Co. farm.


Beck’s Big Buck Horn Okra

Free seed have been distributed far and wide by the Becks over the last 33 years. Many home gardeners now grow it. Some call it the snapping okra because of the way it easily snaps off when ready to harvest, if it doesn't easily snap off you know it will be a little to hard to fry.

Most people call it Beck’s Big Okra. However, the Becks kept the seed alive and made it and them famous but if it hadn't been for the Saloon owner it wouldn't even be here. A better name could be “Beck’s Big Buck Horn Okra” or “Buck Horn Big Okra”.

Seed can still be picked up free at the Garden-Ville store on Evans rd. one mile west of Nacogdoches rd. North East of San Antonio.

Signs at entrance to Garden-Ville road

 

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last updated:  January 14, 2004