Home Vegetable Growing How to Grow Okra: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

How to Grow Okra: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

by Gregory
3 minutes read

How to Grow Okra: A Beginner’s Guide

What is Okra?

Okra, also called ladies’ fingers or gumbo, is a unique vegetable that produces edible pods in summer and autumn. It’s an annual plant, meaning it completes its life cycle in one growing season. Okra plants are known for their attractive foliage and creamy-yellow flowers.

Growing Conditions

Okra thrives in warm, humid, and sunny environments. In the UK, it’s best grown under cover in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Only the mildest and sunniest regions are suitable for growing okra outdoors.

Varieties and Spacing

Most okra varieties grow to around 4 feet high and wide, so they need plenty of space. The variety ‘French Quarter’ is more compact and better suited for patio growing.

How to Grow Okra

Starting from Seed:

  • Sow okra seeds indoors in late winter or early spring.
  • Soak seeds in warm water for several hours.
  • Plant seeds 1-2cm deep in small pots of seed compost mixed with perlite.
  • Keep pots warm (20-25°C) and moist.

Transplanting:

  • When seedlings are 4-6 inches tall, transplant them into larger pots.
  • Gradually harden off seedlings to outdoor conditions before planting them out after the last frost.
  • Plant in fertile soil enriched with organic matter or in large pots of potting compost.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Water okra plants regularly, especially during dry spells.
  • Fertilize weekly with a liquid fertilizer high in potash.
  • Support plants with canes as they grow.
  • Mist plants regularly to increase humidity, which aids pollination.

Harvesting Okra

  • Okra pods develop in mid to late summer.
  • Harvest pods when they are young and around 3-4 inches long.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut pods off the plant.
  • Harvest regularly to encourage new fruit production.

Tips and Troubleshooting

  • Poor growth can be caused by low temperatures.
  • Small pods can be caused by lack of water or nutrients.
  • Webbing on leaves may indicate red spider mites. Increase humidity to control them.

Buying Okra

  • Buy fresh okra seed from a reputable supplier.
  • Look for spineless varieties if you have sensitive skin.
  • Ready-grown okra plants are sometimes available from specialist suppliers.

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