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Tips For Growing Okra


Growing Okra

Okra is a favorite in the American South; fried, boiled or in soups. And it is easy to grow if you have the right weather. Okra loves hot weather and will not tolerate frost. Long hot summers are best for a successful okra crop. If you live in Seattle or San Francisco...forget it, unless planted in a heated environment. It will grow there but produce very little if any eatable okra. Okra requires sustained daytime temperatures over 75 degrees F. to produce well. And 80 degrees or more is even better.

PLANTING OKRA

Plant Okra seed in the spring or early summer when the soil temperature is 75 degrees F. or above. Soil should be fertile and high in potash with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Plant seed 1/4 inch deep 12 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. Germination will take up to 14 days.

Be sure to plant in a location that gets full sun all day. Okra can grow up to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety and growing conditions, so do not locate where it may shade other plants in your garden. Provide at least an inch of water a week and fertilize when plants are 6 inches tall.

In cooler regions you will have better success by planting seed indoors and transplanting. Okra does not do well if its roots are disturbed so use peat pots that may be planted without removing the plant from its container. Start seeds 6 weeks before soil temperature reaches at least 65 degrees. This may require consulting with local weather records to estimate the proper timing to plant seeds indoors.

Okra is a very attractive plant with lovely flowers but they do not last long as okra grows very fast.

How to Grow Okra

HARVESTING OKRA

Pick okra when the pods are 3-4 inches long for best flavor and tenderness. If allowed to grow beyond that point it will become tough. Keep the okra picked to encourage continual production. You may need to harvest the okra every three or four days in mid-summer.

VARIETIES

Popular varieties include 'Blondy' (48 days to maturity) and 'Annie Oakley' (45 days to maturity).

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