Okra is primarily a warm-weather tropical vegetable that can be grown in both northern and southern gardens. A tall-growing annual often called gumbo, it grows best in southern states, where two crops can be grown in a single year.
The spring okra crop can be planted as soon as all danger of frost has passed. In most temperate regions, sow the fall crop from June 1 to July 1. The fruits can be collected 55 to 65 days after sowing, depending on the variety. Always plant the seed when the soil has warmed, as okra is a warm climate plant and will not withstand cold weather or cold soil.
Okra plantation in the moon phase
Okra should be planted when the moon is in the second or third trimester (i.e. waxing / waning) and in one of the following zodiac signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Libra.
Okra thrives in any well-drained garden soil and in full sunlight. If the soil is moist, the seed tends to rot, so good drainage is necessary. Okra is difficult to transplant, but in places far north, the seed can be started in cold frames or hot beds and transplanted to the garden with caution.
Although okra will work well in any type of soil, thorough soil preparation is very important. These woody plants can absorb all the food you give them. Because okra grows quickly, nitrogen is particularly necessary. Poultry manure is a splendid material for okra beds. Since it is very strong, it can only be used about one-tenth the amount of chicken manure as other animal manures.
Compost, leaf mold, peat, and wood ash can be used to advantage to improve poor soil in the garden. Peat and leaf mold are usually acidic and a small amount of lime should be used in conjunction with either of these two materials. These soil builders should be plowed in the winter well before planting time, or in a small home garden where they can be plowed in early spring.
The rows must be at least three to five feet apart. The stems are bushy and can become quite large when well fertilized and during the rainy season. Spread the seed in planters or plant loosely on hills and cover to a depth of one to two inches, depending on the compactness of the soil. The seed should be three to four inches apart to allow room for stem development.
If the weather is warm, germination should take place in a few days. But if, in the meantime, it rains a lot, the soil should be cultivated lightly between the rows and the crust broken over the seed with a garden rake. This is suggested when the soil contains clay or is heavy. Sandy loam probably won’t need any such treatment, since the seed will come out when the soil has drained or the water has evaporated from the action of the sun. After the plants are established, thin so they are 15 inches apart and lightly mulch.
The okra plant is not subject to attack by many insects, but the capsule worm can be a problem. It pierces the pods and damages them. The bed bug also attacks the pods, pierces them and extracts the juices. Since the damage of the latter occurs at the end of the season, the loss is very small. Blister beetles and leaf beetles often feed on okra foliage, but these pests do little ear damage and have little influence on ear production. Hand harvesting generally keeps these insects in check.
For continuous production, the ears should be harvested every day when they are one to four inches long, depending on the variety. They should be soft and the seed should only grow halfway if the pods are to be eaten. If it is necessary to keep the pods for more than 24 hours, they should be spread out in a cool and slightly moistened place. They must be provided with ventilation because they get hot when kept in closed boxes or drawers.
The Dwarf Green Long Pod matures in 50 days, as does the Perkins Mammoth, sometimes called the Green Long Pod. White Velvet takes 60 days to mature, but this is the standard okra for many southern markets. Clemson Spineless okra matures in about 60 days and has long, thornless, uniform dark green pods. Emerald is another variety that is frequently planted.