Okra.jpeg

Okra

When to Plant

  • You can start okra seeds indoors in peat pots under full light 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date. 

  • In warmer areas, you can also start okra directly in your garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date as long as you cover the plants with a cold frame or grow tunnel until the weather warms up fully. Make sure that the covering is 2 to 3 feet tall so that the plants have room to grow.

  • If you do not start your okra plants early, wait until there is stable, warm weather. You can plant okra in the garden when the soil has warmed to about 65° or 70°F—the warmer, the better.

Choosing a Planting Site

  • As a warm-weather crop, okra appreciates full sun.

  • Okra is adaptable and will grow in most 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 5.8 and 7.0.

How to Plant

  • If you are planting okra transplants, be sure to space them 1 to 2 feet apart to give them ample room to grow.

  • Plant okra seeds about 1/2 to 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart in a row. You can soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help speed up germination.

  • Okra plants are tall, so space out the rows 3 to 4 feet apart.

How to Grow

  • Eliminate weeds when the plants are young, then mulch heavily to prevent more weeds from growing. Apply a layer of mulch 2 to 3 inches high.

  • You should side-dress the plants with 10-10-10, aged manure, or rich compost (1/2 pound per 25 feet of row). You could also apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.

  • When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, thin the plants so that they are 12 to 18 inches apart, if they aren't already.

  • Keep the plants well watered throughout the summer months; 1 inch of water per week is ideal, but use more if you are in a hot, arid region.

  • After the first harvest, remove the lower leaves to help speed up production.

Pests/Diseases

  • Aphids

  • Corn earworms

  • Stinkbugs

  • Fusarium wilt

How to Harvest

  • The first harvest will be ready about 2 months after planting.

  • Harvest the okra when it's about 2 to 3 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.