Step by Step on Growing Okra
On this week’s episode, Travis is growing the easiest crops in the vegetable garden. Being apart of the Mallow family, okra is related to cotton or hibiscus and they all share similar flowers as well. It is pretty much a maintenance-free crop meaning it hardly needs any water or fertilizer to grow in the garden. The ultimate guide to growing okra is planting during the warmer weather months such as spring, summer, or fall. Travis mentions that okra does better when transplanted rather than direct-seeded. We recommend starting the transplants, 4 to 5 weeks prior to the desired planting date. You should start the okra transplants in the spring to ensure you get a headstart on the growing season. Since okra plants prefer warmer temperatures for seed germination, transplanting allows you to have them in the ground before the soil temperature warms up enough to direct seed. Okra plants require a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees to germinate in the garden. To effectively grow okra transplants we like to use our seed starting trays. The seed trays contain internal vertical rooting training ribs that help aid in aeration and root ball drainage of the plants. This in returns allows for better transplants that experience less transplant shock and faster production. If you are direct seeding, you can use our garden seeder to accurately plant without wasting seeds by overplanting. When planting okra, Travis likes to plant them on double rows to get the most production and save space in the garden area. Most okra plants should be harvested once they reach around 3 to 4 inches long in the vegetable garden. If you let them get longer than that they will begin to lose their eating quality and become tough. Okra pods usually need to be cut or picked at least once every other day in the vegetable garden. As the warmer growing season progresses the okra plants will get rather tall in the garden. Many of the old-timers believe in cropping the lateral stems which makes the plants taller and harder to harvest okra pods. However, we don’t believe in cropping the lateral stems. Instead we believe that the more leaves the okra plants have, the more photosynthesis and fruit production can take place in the vegetable garden.
Most Popular Varieties
In the South, the ultimate guide to growing the most popular okra varieties is the Jambalaya, Red Burgundy, Clemson Spineless, and Cowhorn. Out of those four varieties, Travis’s favorite varieties to grow are Jambalaya and Red Burgundy. The ultimate guide to being the first one to harvest okra pods before anyone else is planting the best variety known as Jambalaya. It is known for producing okra pods faster than any other variety in the vegetable garden. Therefore, they will produce pods when they reach about a foot tall which means it does require you to do some bending over to harvest them until the plants get taller. However, the Red Burgundy contains eye-catching deep red pods that make it more noticeable than traditional okra pods in a market farm setting. This variety has a little more slender pods than other okra varieties and works great for pickling, frying, or stewing in recipes around the homestead. The Clemson Spineless is more popular amongst the South Georgia farmers. It contains a rounded pod with no spines on the external layer. The heirloom variety, Cowhorn allows you to grow a little longer pods before the okra loses the taste quality and becomes too tough.