I was scratching my head for a plant to post about and guess what? I realized that I haven’t posted about my favorite vegetable in the whole world. Okra- the love of my life (Over dramatic, yeah I know). The way my mom makes okra dishes makes me salivate even by thinking about its taste.
I have grown Okra a couple of times in my terrace and I am sure it is another easy veggie to grow. Let me be honest I have faced some serious pest problems in them. Despite everything these are fun to grow vegetables and a must try for everyone according to me.
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), native to Africa and related to hibiscus. You can see their resemblance in flowers. These are quite popular in India and once again are very tasty.
Okra is easy to grow and use and looks lovely throughout the growing season due to its beautiful flowers. It’s also rich in vitamin A and low in calories, which makes it a great addition to your diet.
How to grow Okra
Enough with all the pleasantries. Now let us focus on growing Okra in garden.
When to plant Okra
Okra grow well in warm and sunny climate. So I would advise you to plan on planting them around January and June. Atleast that is when it is usually planted in Tamil Nadu. Let me be clear this plant can be planted twice a year. The yield in first season – January season will be less when compared to the second season which is June.
Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site
- As I mentioned above okra appreciates full sun.
- Okra is adaptable and will grow in almost all soils, though it performs best in well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter.
- Soil should ideally be on the acidic side, with a pH between 6 and 6.8.\
- It will grow even if the ph is not ideal but the yield will be reduced.
- Also while preparing the soil dig it up a bit and add manure and compost and water them for a couple of days before planting the seeds.
How to Grow Okra in Containers
Growing Okra in containers is as easy as growing them in ground. Just make sure the soil is rich and has good drainage. A pot that is a half feet wide and 1 feet deep is necessary for a single okra plant. Since it is going to grow in a small space it is mandatory that you fertilize it frequently. Apart from this all the other info are same as how to follow on ground.
How to Plant Okra
Growing Okra from Nursery seedlings
- If you are planting okra transplants, be sure to space them 1 to 2 feet apart to give them ample room to grow.
Growing Okra from Seeds
- Selection: Select the variety of Okra that you want to grow and get the seeds.
- Seed Treatment: You can soak the seeds in mixture of Water, water drained after cooking rice and if possible you can add a pinch of Azospirillum and pseudomonas for 4-hrs. Then drain them and dry them in a sheet then plant them.
- This prevents the germination failure and prevents the seedling from diseases.
- If the above step seems like too much for you, you can also soak the seeds overnight in water to help speed up germination.
- Planting: Plant okra seeds about ½ to 1 inch deep and 1 feet apart in a row.
- Okra plants are tall, so space out the rows 3 to 4 feet apart.
If you have planted two or more seeds closely thin out the weak ones and leave only one healthy seedling.
Okra don’t need lot of water. However they expect the soil to be slightly moist all time.
- So water them regularly but do not overwater and let the water stagnate. This will kill the roots.
- While watering, water near the base and avoid watering on leaves. These droplets can act as magnifying glass and can kill and can damage the leaves.
- Also water during morning so that even if you spill some water on leaves they dry up.
As they love sun to prevent the soil from drying up and to reduce water usage you can much them nicely. As I always say this also keeps the roots warm in cold seasons.
They tolerate all types of soil but they can’t produce much from soil that doesn’t have any nutrients. So it is ideal to fertilize them regularly.
- You can add compost to its base and manure to soil
- You can also add vermicompost.
- You can also add Panchagavya, Amirtha Karaisal, Meen Amilam or any type of organic feed.
Feed the plant monthly twice to get better results.
The plant starts to flower in about 35-40 days after germination. The flowers are yellow in color(Irrespective of the variety) and look like hibiscus.
Pushing out the pods:
The vegetable starts to grow 5days after flowering and continue to produce them for next two months. The veggie part is called a pod as they open like a pod to release the seeds.
Those all who have went to market to pick some Okra know that Okra is best tasted in its youth. After a while they secrete more gooey stuff and become woody.
So it is advisable to pick the Okras when they are tender and pick them up once in two days. A single Okra plant can produce up to 30 Okras in its lifetime. But it purely depends on treatment and care it receives(There is a reason for calling them ladies finger). Jokes apart they are really easy to care.
Pests and Diseases:
The major pests that I have faced are mealy bugs, aphids and green worms. Spray neem oil and grounded neem seeds mixed with water regularly. I recommend to spray them twice a week even if you find no pests. You can never be too sure!
As far as diseases are concerned, the ones attacking them are root rot, root diseases, curling and yellowing of leaves.
Get Phosphobacteria and Pseudomonas, I have tried them personally and it is said to prevent the plant from root rot and other root diseases. Mix them in water and Apply them for first two months regularly in soil.
For leaf diseases keep the plant healthy that they resist common diseases.
How to Harvest Okra
- The first harvest will be ready about 2 months after planting.
- Harvest the okra when it’s about 2-4 inches long. Harvest it every other day.
- Cut the stem just above the cap with a knife; if the stem is too hard to cut, the pod is probably too old and should be tossed.
- Wear gloves and long sleeves when cutting the okra because most varieties are covered with tiny spines that will irritate your skin, unless you have a spineless variety. Do not worry: this irritation will not happen when you eat them.
How to store Okra
- To store okra, put the uncut and uncooked pods into freezer bags and keep them in the freezer.
Do you have another great tip to add? Mention them below in the comments. Have questions? You can contact me through contact page or by clicking the WhatsApp Icon that is on the left side of the screen.
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Let us plant together and grow together!
This is a bilingual post. இதனை தமிழில் படிக்க இங்கே கிளிக் செய்யவும்.