Okra, also called lady’s finger in some places, is a vegetable that is best grown in spring and summer. However, you can also grow okra in autumn and winter if you can control tempretaure by planting the vegetable in poly house, net house, or green house. Generally speaking, okra grows well in tropical climate, however, these days botanists have developed a variety that can grow anywhere between 0 to 5000 meters from sea level. Okra’s diverse varieties are separated according to days of maturity, leaf shape, fruit shape, and color. Examples include Lady’s finger and Perkin’s long rod varieties.

Okra is edible for its nutritional characteristics. It has different vitamins and minerals and can be utilized in diverse ways. The fruit is called a capsule which can be chopped into small pieces, boiled, and prepared into a soup. If you are looking for alkalizing foods, you should definately include okra in your menu. If you are looking forward to naturally reduce your blood sugar levels, you should also try eating a lot of okra.

Growing Okra: Tips and Tricks

Okra can be grown outdoors or indoors. When you are growing indoors, you can grow okra in 12 inches pots, containers, or poly bags. You can grow okra in your terrace, balcony, or even lobby. However, you must make sure your plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. The best thing about okra is you can harvest the vegetables multiple times. You can continue to harvest okra for at least 3 months provided you regularly feed the plant with nutrients.

Here is an step by step process to grow okra in your garden.

Site Selection

In case, you are growing indoors, in containers, you have to choose a container that has good drainage and is at least 12 inches tall. If you are growing outdoors, you must select the site wisely. The site must be located preferably in a loamy area with good fertility. The soil must be well-drained for optimum plant yield.

Soil preparation

Ensure your soil is considerably dry to prevent your farm implements from sticking into the soil throughout tillage operations. Turn over the top soil deep down using a spade. Okra would do very well when the soil is ploughed 8-10 inches deep. Smoothen the soil surface with a rake. Remove stony and other foreign materials in the soil that may stop root development.

Planting

Okra can be propagated through seeds and can be planted anytime directly on the field. For spring cultivation, plant the seeds after ice threat within the first two – three weeks. For fall cultivation, plant at three months before mid-September to early November frost to get the most effective yield attainable.

Inter-row spacing of 90cm apart and intra-row spacing of 2m is recommended. Place the okra seeds 2-3cm into the soil and cover lightly. You can plant 2-3 seeds in one spot, and later if all seeds germinate and grow at least 5 cm tall, you can snip extra plant.

Care and Management

Weeding

Clear unwanted plants regularly. It is recommended to use manual hand weeding method to avoid destroying the fragile plant roots.

Fertilizing

Apply 1-1.5 kilograms of NPK 10-10-10 fertilizer ratio per 10 square meters. Spread out the fertilizer equally between the line while simultaneously mixing it with a fraction of the soil. Supply water to plants after applying fertilizer. 

Irrigation

Okra can survive during dry seasons, but for higher yield management, water the plants 7-10 days when rainfall is low. 

Pest and Disease management

Many insecticides both organic and inorganic are available to remove insects. Sevin is an inorganic insecticide suitable for Okra insect pests. Organic insecticides include sulphur and insecticides of Baccillus thuringiensis (Bt). Sulphur can also fight fungal diseases. Read the insecticide label before using it and carefully follow the precautions and instructions.

Diseases pose a serious threat to okra especially on humid and wet days. Check the plants every day and apply fungicides immediately if a plant shows signs of infection. The available biofungicides include neem oil and sulphur.

Harvesting

Flowering in okra takes place about 2 months after sowing. The capsule is usually taken 3-4 days after the flower opening. A shift after these days makes fruit fibrous and unable to use. Harvest early when capsule are 7-10cm long usually about 50 – 70 days after planting. Harvest progressively every 1-3 days else, the yield will decrease.

Storage

Okra can be stored after harvesting under cool temperature between 7-10oC in a refrigerator for about 3-4 days. Over matured pods are to be dried and stored in sacs for future use.

Utilization

You can preserve some of your harvests for future use. Leave some on the plant until they are big. Then, remove them from the stalk and dry them well. You get the okra seeds needed for the next growing season from the dried pods. 

By-products such as dried leaves and stems after harvesting can be left on the farm to decompose, recycle and make nutrients available in the soil after being used.

Okra is also a good choice for urban gardening or container gardening.

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