Vegetable Garden - Tips on Growing Okra from Seeds
Okra is quick growing in hot weather. It loves the heat more than perhaps most other vegetables. Provide full sun and rich, well drained soil. Keep them watered, but make sure to provide good drainage, as they do not like to keep their feet wet for extended periods. Apply both fertilizer and mulch.
Squash, cucumbers, melons, eggplant, okra, tomatoes and other vegetable plants that are in your garden depend on bees to set fruit, so plant yourself some insurance with flowers that will attract them. Bee balm is one of their favorites.
As soon as the weather is dependably warm and sunny, you should see the bees visiting your plants. Bee balm is perennial in Zones 4 through 9, so put it in a corner of the garden were it can grow undisturbed. It will multiply, too. If you “deadhead,” or cut off the old blooms when they fade, bee balm will bloom longer.
SOWING THE SEED
In cool climates or for an early crop in warm regions, warm the soil with black plastic for about 4-5 weeks before transplanting the Okra. At the same time sow seeds indoors in individual pots. After all danger of frost has passed, set plants 1 foot apart and being careful not to disturb the roots. In warm climates you can direct sow the Okra seeds. Water Okra plants during dry weather and fertilize once a month with a natural fertilizer such as fish emulsion or seaweed.
USDA Hardiness Zone -First Frost Date- Last Frost Date
N= Moderate, P= Moderate, K= Moderate
Can be rotated with any other crop.
Aphids and other insects enjoy sucking on the juices of the plants. Insect control is important for a bountiful harvest.
Choose your sunniest spot for okra, and wait until the weather is warm to set out your plants. Plants like it when nights are at least in the 60s and days 85 or warmer. In the North, gardeners might wait until late June to plant, since pods appear within 2 months.
The early growth of okra is often slow, but the plants grow much faster once summer starts sizzling. In addition to gaining height, okra's leaves get bigger as the plants grow and begin producing yellow blossoms followed by tender pods. Plants are erect with a main trunk, making them look a little tree-like in the garden. Cool weather is okra's number-one enemy, and stressed plants may fall victim to verticillium and fusarium wilts, which are soil-borne diseases that cause them to wilt and die. Another serious pest is root knot nematode. Ants often climb up plants to steal sips of nectar but seldom cause serious damage. Other pests that you may run into include Japanese beetles, stink bugs, aphids, corn earworms, and flea beetles.
Warm weather helps pods grow quickly, so check plants every day once they start producing. A pod can grow from nothing to full size in 2 or 3 days. Pods first appear at the base of the plant up so that by the end of the season you could be on your tiptoes to harvest.
Pods are ideal when 2 to 4 inches long; they get very tough and stringy if allowed to stay on the plant. Always remove any that are too big to eat because they keep the plant from producing.
Use pruning shears to cut the pods with a short stub of stem attached. Some people suffer uncomfortable itching from contact with okra's stiff leaf hairs, so you may want to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when gathering your okra. If a few pods slip by you and grow into giants, cut them off to keep them from exhausting the plant.
In warm climates where summer lasts a long time, standard-sized plants can get 6 to 8 feet tall. In this case, many people prune vigorous varieties .Okra is a "cut-and-come-again" vegetable. Keep cutting the pods every day or two, and they will keep on coming.