Best Tool for Harvesting Okra
The best tool for harvesting okra in the garden is our Handy Twine Knife. This tool is a vinyl-coated ring that slides onto your finger that makes it easier to harvest vegetables and cut twine when using the trellising technique. When harvesting okra this twine knife can be worn either above or below the knuckle of your finger. It also comes with a protective sheath making it safer to store when not in use. The blade is fixed and only sharp on the inside making it safer to carry and use around the garden. The handy twine knife comes in five different colors that vary based on your finger size. There are five sizes ranging from 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
Growing Okra in the Garden
When planting okra the best time to plant is during the spring, summer, or fall months. Due to these plants loving the warmer weather temperatures they need to be planted in an area with plenty of sunlight. We recommend transplanting okra in the early spring to get a jumpstart on production and early germination of plants during the growing season. When transplanting using our seed starting trays this will ensure you develop a solid root ball because of the internal root training ribs that help the plants grow properly and reduce transplant shock when placed in the garden area. If you would rather direct seed okra plants the best time is either late spring or summer using our walk-behind garden seeder. It comes with six adjustable seed plates that allow for a variety of different seeds to be planted in the seeder. Another benefit of growing okra is they work great for succession planting throughout the warmer months. When picked regularly you are able to get multiple harvests off one okra plant. The best time to harvest okra pods is when they reach around 3 to 5 inches in length. However, once okra plants get so tall they become less productive and harvesting will be more difficult. A major pest that can harm the growth of okra plants is root-knot nematodes. These nematodes cause knots on the roots of the plants that can drain the nutrients from the plants leaving them wilted in the garden. There are a couple of different ways to control these nematode problems in the garden area. We recommend using a cover crop like Broadleaf Mustard that will release chemicals to help suppress nematode, fungi, and insect populations and increase organic matter which will improve soil tilth and quality of the soil structure in the vegetable garden area.
There are several different okra varieties that we have available that are not only productive but have excellent flavor profiles. The Jambalaya okra is a hybrid variety that produces green pods that have heavy yields that are great for pickling, frying, or stewing. While the Red Burgundy is a highly-productive heirloom variety that has dark red pods that stay tender at longer pod lengths. Another heirloom variety is Cowhorn which is an earlier producer that has long tender pods that reach up to 10 inches long. Unlike traditional varieties, the Silver Queen variety has less ribbing which means the pods remain tender at 6 inches long. This variety also produces light green to almost white pods that make them unique from other okra varieties. The Star of David produces shorter and thicker pods that are excellent for frying in the kitchen. It is another heirloom variety that got its name based on its origin in Isreal. All of these varieties work great when used for pickling, frying, stewing, or boiling in recipes on the homestead.