Following a step-by-step guide on how to plant okra seed is crucial to ensure you do not destroy the seeds at the start of their journey.
Okra, also known as (Abelmoschus esculentus) is native to Africa. These edible green seed pods arrived in North America in the 1600s and quickly became a staple to the South as well. It is loved both as a staple and a thickening agent for stews and gumbo.
Okra thrives in any climate where corn does well. These large-flowered fast-growing plants reach up to 2 to 6 feet tall depending on the type of cultivar.
It has a similar taste to eggplant and is commonly used in shellfish, tomato, onion, and corn dishes. This plant is related to hibiscus, the rose of Sharon, and hollyhock.
Guide For How To Plant Okra Seed
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Okra requires full sun to thrive. It grows in ordinary garden soil, especially fertile loam soil. Plant them after growing nitrogen-fixing crops like peas and they will do very well.
Plant a first crop of Okra in the early spring and a second in June in the South. In the short-season areas, plant them indoors 6 weeks before setting them out – 3 to 4 weeks after the last frost date. Plant 2 seeds per pot and clip off the weaker seedling in the first few weeks.
If you choose to plant Okra seeds in the ground, wait until the soil is warm and the air temperature reaches 60 degrees. Use fresh seeds soaked overnight to encourage germination.
Sow your seeds ½ inch deep in light soil and 1 inch deep in heavy soil. Space your seeds 3 inches apart in rows that are 3 to 4 feet apart. Thin out the weak seedlings at least 18 to 24 inches apart keeping the strongest among your plants. If you use transplants, space them at least 1 to 2 feet to give them ample room to grow.
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The Best Time To Plant Okra Seeds
You can start Okra seeds indoors in pots full of peat 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost date using indoor light.
In warmer areas, you can plant Okra directly in your garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date. You will need to cover your plants with a grow tunnel or a cold frame until the weather warms up. Make sure the coverage you use is at least 2 to 3 feet to give the plants room to grow.
If you do not start your Okra plants early, you can wait until the weather is stable and warm. Your garden is ready for okra seeds when the soil is warm to about 65 to 70 degrees. Remember, the warmer, the better.
Choosing And Preparing The Planting Site
Choose an area that receives full sun.
Okra is adaptable to most soils but you must use well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.
Soil should be acidic with a pH value of 5.8 to 7.0.
Caring For The Okra Plant
Watering. Provide regular watering during the flowering and pod development. If the weather is dry and hot, you will need to water them every week with adequate water.
Diseases and Pests. Plant Okra where you have practiced good crop rotation especially with a nitrogen-rich crop like peas. This is because okra is susceptible to wilt, nematode, root-knot, and Southern stem blight. Good soil management and crop rotation help control diseases. Okra attracts various worms and beetles, watch out for regular infestations and treat them appropriately.
A Note About Growing Okra
Store your harvested okra in the refrigerator in perforated plastic bags. Do not wash it before storage as this will encourage the growth of mold quickly. Use the stored okra within a few days before the pods start to darken.
Okra plants produce enough to feed your family. Four or five plants are usually enough to produce enough for a midsized – large family. If you want to can or freeze okra for use during winter, you can go ahead and plant more.
Old seed pods are not eaten; they can be harvested for dried flower arrangements. Okra plants stop their production if the seeds are allowed to mature. Also, if you stop picking the pods the plant stops producing. Pods must always be picked before the seeds mature.
Grow Okra From Seed
There are so many reasons you will want to add okra to your list of vegetables you are growing in your garden. It is easy to grow and basically trouble-free as long as it’s provided with the right conditions to grow.
The more nutritious vegetable so you add to your garden, the healthier your food will be. Once grown, do not allow your fresh produce to go to waste. Now that you know all about okra, go ahead and grow your own!