The okra, a long prickly vegetable, is often known as a lady’s finger. Okra can be eaten in several ways, for instance,raw, pickled, or stir-fried, etc.The greengage of okra is mind-blowing and the taste is amazing though.
The skin of okra could prickle your fingertips at just a gentle touch. And, slicing it exposes nothing more than seeds and slime. Are you wondering how to grow okra?
During the heat and humidity of a heated summer, just a few plants have real tolerance against the scorching sunlight and choking humidity. But, the okra loves heat and warm weather. The okra likes to flourish with the increment in temperature. And, of course, the warm weather eventually prolongs their green dark leaves and notably vivid flowers.
Okra is just different from the other plants in terms of sunlight. Keeping in the mind that the okra thrives in a warm climate, it is ideal to plant okra in early summer once the frost starts to disappear.
As part of the process, the soil should have a temperature level of not less than 65 degrees Fahrenheit to encourage the germination of seeds which turns into healthy seedlings.
How to Grow Okra Guide?
Picking an ideal place
When picking a place to plant okra, it is recommended that the area that has a warm climate throughout the summer is appropriate to grow okra and eventually higher yield.
Also Read: How to Grow Pumpkin
However, okra is known to grow in poor soils. It is better produced on healthy soils that are rich with plenty of organic material. But it is noteworthy that the excessive nitrogen contributes to better development of the plant, but adversely affects the growth of blooms.
So, it will be a wise decision to have a soil test if you have a plan to grow okra commercially. Also, the soil test usually provides a clear and authentic ratio proportion of the essential nutrients.
Sowing of okra seeds
It works great for the growers that have extended cold season to sow the okra seeds in pots indoor. They can propagate the plants once seedling starts to appear and frost disappears entirely. The germination for seeds takes about four to five weeks to become a seedling.
To get the quality results for okra farming, you can use the fresh seed that is soaked overnight. And, it is worth to sow two seeds per pot in case of indoor sowing as later you can remove any weak seedling from the pot if there is any.
Besides, you can sow the seeds directly where the okra plant is to grow for the rest of the season.
Soil preparation for okra cultivation
It is worth preparing the soil and allowing it to age before planting. During this process, this can be done by applying directly more organic compost to the soil. Like any crop, the okra often needs strong water retention and proper drainage.
Moreover, to germinate the seeds properly, you should sow the seeds half an inch below in light soil and one inch deep in hard soil. While it is appropriate to give three inches of space between the plants and approx three feet between the rows.
Caring the okra plants
The okra plant needs a lot of space around it. In okra farming, the plants sometimes develop six feet high and can spread to a large degree. Thus, planting the seed with enough space is always worth the higher yield.
Once the okra is around 4 inches high, try to keep weeds away and hold moisture around the roots. Furthermore, it is recommended to water every three or four weeks during dry periods as well as serve the compost on the side of plant roots.
The okra is a plant for the warm weather. Still, it is noteworthy to take care of the irrigation of plants so that they can grow to the full capacity and can produce a higher yield. In this exercise, if a plant has gained considerable height, it should be watered once in a week at least or more frequently if there are severe dry conditions in your local. While okra can survive a brief period of dryness, but it is worth to ensure that the dry period should not extend long.
In case the soil is well prepared, okra would only require light compost dressings for the optimum results throughout the season.
Besides, the powerful foliar sprays would be beneficial to make sure that each okra plant can give a higher yield. Also, fluid seaweed spray can be used two to three times in the growing season of okra farming.
The early growth of okra is always lazy, but as summer begins to settle, the plants grow much faster. As soon as the temperature rises the plant starts to grow in height. During this process, the okra leaves begin to develop, which are accompanied by tender seeds, to produce a yellow flower.
Once grown about four to six feet, the plant develops a central stem that gives it a slight appearance just like a short tree.
The pollinations of the okra largely depend on the climate during the season. The conditions such as temperatures above 90 ° F or under 55 ° F have an adverse effect over the pollination. Inhibiting too little light, water stress and nitrogen overload also may have adverse effects. Thus, plant it in the pleasant light, high in manure, and hold the soil abundantly moist.
Problems with okra farming
The stem rot or the Fusarium is a fungal disease that favors warm soil. It is recommended to drag contaminated plants and drop away from the field. To prevent the fungal disease, leave soil for sunlight in late spring or summer is the utmost necessity.
This fungal infection often results in the death of the young seedlings, which is quite a treat for the okra crop.
Besides, another fungal disease, anthracnose spreads through high moisture and condensation. This has a severe effect over the plant leave and in excess, the plant could deteriorate. If you identify such conditions, it is appropriate to remove contaminated plants and discard them away from the field.
It is recommended to spray at least once in a week with fungicide coated with copper or sulfur.
2. Issues with the pods
1. The fungal traces may occur over the leaves. These are recognized with powdery mildew. This occurs when the humidity is strong. These spores germinate on dry plant surfaces while spores do not sprout on wet plants.
In such conditions, try to toss out leaves and pods that have been decayed. And, keep waste of plants away from the field.
2. A brown caterpillar of up to 2 inches in length can make a tunnel into the pods. This requires picking each insect and destroying them completely.
3. South green bug is a half an inch thick bright green insect. The bug sucks leaves and sap of pod that results in twists and deformation of them. To prevent these insects from okra farming, you can spray the okra plant with insecticidal soap.
4. Aphids are little insects that colonize underneath leaves and look like an oval and yellowish pear. They can leave the oily excrement, termed as the honeydew, behind them which may become a sooty black mold. Spraying the insecticidal soap can turn them down effectively.
Once, the pods start to appear and grow towards maturity.
The perfect time for okra cultivation is within three to four days of developing pods. As they mature quickly, they tend to be tougher, stringier, and less adequate to eat. You can pluck the okra but in the meantime, you need to take care of a few things.
- The okra is ready as an edible vegetable after 2 months of planting
- Once the okra grows to the two to three inches, it can be harvested. It is better to harvest them daily to encourage reproduction from the plants.
- After the first harvest, trash the lower leaves to help speed up production.
- Okra is covered with the prickle that can hurt your hands while plucking them by bare hands.
- The vegetable might be too hard, signifies that okra is probably too old and should not be used.
You can enjoy okra throughout the winter if it preserved under cold storage. Sufficient cooling conditions prevent them from withering or losing the original taste.
Can okra and tomatoes grow together?
Both okra and tomato have a tall plant once grown to maturity. These may grow up to six feet. If you try to grow both the vegetable all along, it is ideal to keep the distance around four feet between two plants. The tomatoes are a great source of food for the stink bugs. Thus, it is worth having these around your main crops in the case of okra. These practices can keep many insects away from your plant.
The seafood gumbo, a shellfish based dish, has the perfect use of the okra. Besides, young leaves, similar to spinach, are often used in salads. And, seeds may be pressed or roasted for the oil. Apart from this, this plant is commonly used as a thickening agent in soups and stews.