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.
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.)
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.
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.
|Veggie Garden Dairy|
|Also Known As||Gumbo, Lady’s fingers|
|Botanical||Family - Malvaceae, Genus - Abelmoschus, Species - A. esculentus|
|Plant Type||Warm season - annual - podding vegetable|
|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 , 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|