How To Grow Okra

Planting Okra

Okra loves the hot weather. It grows best in full sun with rich, fertile, well-drained soil. Make sure the soil is warm for best germination. Sow seeds directly in the garden 2 weeks after the last frost. Seed Depth: ½ -1" Plant Spacing: 3" apart (later thin the seedlings to 12-18" apart.) Row Spacing: 24-30" apart. Provide good soil drainage and apply fertilizer and mulch around plants to retain moisture and control weeds. Good soil pH ranges from 6.5-7.5. Allow 7-14 days for germination.

Harvesting Okra

The best time to harvest okra is when the pods are about 3" long and are still young and tender. Test one of the pods by cutting it open. If it is tough, then the best harvest time has passed. Cut the old pods off and discard. If you leave them, they will continue to absorb nutrients needed for the younger pods. Cut the young pods off at the bottom and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about a week or so. You can also freeze okra. The most important thing to remember is that you will need to harvest it about every other day, so check your plants often.

Saving Okra Seeds

Suggested isolation distance is ½ mile. Leave pods on plant until they turn brown and begin to split at the seams. Shell the seeds from the pods and allow to dry. Seeds should keep for at least 2-5 years if kept cool and dry.

Common Problems

  • Aphids
    These frustrating critters will quickly weaken your plants, bringing viruses upon them. These pear-shaped insects are about 3/8 in. long and can be many different colors. Marigolds draw helpful insects to your aid, for example the lady bird and the hover fly, both of which prey on aphids. A plant sprayed with homemade garlic or a strong stream of water also does the trick.

Suggested Companions

  • Sweet Peppers
  • Melons
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants
  • Corn
  • Summer Savory
  • Tomatoes
  • Cowpeas