Okra Plants in the Garden
Traditionally grown in the South, okra thrives well due to its love for warmer weather. So planting okra in the summer growing seasons is perfect because many other vegetable crops cannot grow due to the harsh climate conditions. Okra plants tend to grow tall and need plenty of spacing to grow. With only 50 days to maturity, okra works great for succession planting too. These plants benefit from soils that range between pH levels of 6.5 to 7.0. Before planting in the soil, okra benefits from having plenty of good compost or rich organic matter. We suggest applying a little bit of 20-20-20 garden fertilizer to help the plants germinate. With equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium the 20-20-20 is a water-soluble formula that is ideal for dissolving and injecting into the EZ-Flo fertilizer injector or a drip irrigation system. To get a head start on the growing season transplanting okra in our seed starting trays allows them to germinate and be ready to go in the ground as soon as the weather conditions are just right. If you prefer to direct seed the okra plants wait till around late spring and summer months. You can use our walk behind garden seeder to direct seed the plants. This versatile planter tool has multiple adjustable seed plates that allow for a variety of seeds to be planted in the garden seeder. Overall, we suggest growing okra during the spring, summer, and fall months.
Pruning or “Whooping”
On this week’s episode, Travis describes the difference between pruning or whooping okra plants. Pruning is done to cut away in dead or overgrown stems to increase production and better growth in plants. To whoop your okra means to go along the okra plants with a switch or limb and beat the sides of the okra. The theory behind it is it will stress the plant and make it produce more in the garden. Travis has planted three rows of the Jambalaya Okra variety in his garden. Jambalaya okra is a very productive, hybrid variety producing many green pods for pickling, stewing, or frying. These pods are best picked when four to six inches long. Travis did an experiment on the okra plants he planted in his garden once they reached around three foot tall. He pruned one row, left one alone, and whooped the last row. What he found, as a result, was that the row that he whooped and pruned did a little better than the row that he left alone in the garden. Also, the okra row that he pruned made it way easier to harvest. Travis does not like to use shears or any cutting tool when pruning. He likes to prune the okra by just grabbing the lateral limbs of the plant and snapping them to pull off the base of the plant. If you pull some of the skin off the base of the plant it will not hurt the plant it will end up healing over and it will be just fine. Travis is not fully convinced that pruning or whooping the plants ends up making more production. If you do not prune the plants some of the lateral stems will end up producing okra. However, pruning or whooping does make it way easier to harvest and manageable in the garden. Travis recommends trying the pruning or whooping method out in the garden to see the wonderful results for yourself that maximize production of okra plants. Either way pruning or whooping will leave your garden easier to manage, harvest, and improve production.