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Growing Okra For A
Long Harvest Season

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Growing Okra Until The Sun Goes Down

Growing Okra

Okra is in the same family as cotton, hollyhocks and hibiscus. The stunning beauty of the hibiscus like flowers of okra gives this crop the added appeal in the garden as an ornamental. Okra is commonly used in soups and stews. It can also be steamed, boiled, baked, fried, grilled, or pickled.

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You have to be quick to admire the stunning flowers of okra. Each flower will unfold, bloom and fad in less than a day, however due to the prolific nature of the okra plant in forming pods the dazzling flower display continues over a long season.

Okra pods are usually light green in color but you will find some varieties with different shades of green, creamy white and red. Mature pods of the different varieties can vary in size from a few inches to over a foot in length with plant heights that range from 3 feet (94 cm) to 10 feet (3 m.)

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Star of David okra pods. These green, short, stocky pods are best eaten when 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) long, although they will grow much bigger they become very tough and really in-edible.

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Burgundy okra. Burgundy okra pods are hard to pick out, from a distance, amongst the burgundy foliage around it. They are best picked when 3-6 inches (7-15 cm) long.

They love the heat and grows best in hot climates with plenty of sun and good fertile loamy soil. Direct sowing is preferable although in cooler climates seedling transplants will help to lengthen the growing season.

Soil temperature needs to be at least 70 F (21 C) before sowing seed. Okra is one of the few vegetable seeds that benefits from scarifying and soaking overnight to hasten germination which can vary from 5-14 days.

Prepare the bed for growing okra with organic all purpose fertilizer and as the season progresses side dress every 3-4 weeks. Liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer blend is another good nutrient source for fast growing okra. Ensure consistent even moisture throughout the growing season.

Growing okra matures very quickly and should be harvested while it is still young and tender, daily picking during the peak of the growing season is advised as the pods quickly become tough and not so delicious. Like tomatoes, a properly care for crop of okra will continue to grow and produce fruit until it is killed by frost.

Quick Reference Guide

Veggie Garden Dairy
Vegetable Okra
Also Known As Gumbo, Lady’s fingers
Botanical Family - Malvaceae, Genus - Abelmoschus, Species - A. esculentus
Plant Type Warm season - annual - podding vegetable
Frost Tolerance Tender
Planting Position Grow in full sun - Requires at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight daily - drought tolerant
Seed Viability 2 years
Germination 8-12 days at 60-90 F (16-32 C)
Growing Temp 70-95 F (21-35 C)
Seed to Transplant Direct sow
Planting Method Direct sow
When to Plant Spring
Time to Plant Wait until at least 1-2 weeks after the last average 32 F (0 C) freeze in your area but not before soil temperature are consistently 60 F (16 C) or above.
Seed Sowing Direct sowing okra seeds - 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart
Plant Spacing Direct sow seeds only - thin seedlings to 5-6 inches (12-15 cm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart
Soil Conditions Well drained - Moderate to high organic matter - Medium fertility
Fertilizer Medium fertilizer needs, 3-4 quarts per 100 sq feet (3.3-4.4 liters per 9.3 square meters) preplanting of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer icon, same rate for each side dressing.
When to Fertilize 2 week before sowing - side-dress after the 1st pods have set - repeat every 6-8 weeks until the 4 weeks before expected 1st fall frost
Days to Harvest 50-80 days - depending on conditions and variety

related pages

Home Page - Site Map - Top of Growing Okra Page - Alphabetical List of Vegetables