By Kathee Mierzejewski
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a wonderful vegetable that is used in all sorts of soups and stews. It is pretty versatile, but not a lot of people actually grow it. There is no reason not to add this vegetable to your garden because of its many uses.
If you are thinking about planting okra, you should remember that it is a warm season crop. Growing okra requires a lot of sunshine, so you should find a place in your garden that does not get much shade. Also, when planting okra you want to be sure there is good drainage in your garden.
When you prepare your garden area for planting okra, you want to be sure to fertilize it. You can use two to three pounds of fertilizer for every 100 square feet of garden space. Work the fertilizer into the ground about three to five inches deep. This will allow your growing okra the most chance at absorbing some of the nutrients.
How to Grow Okra
The first thing you need to do is make sure you prepare the soil well. This might take some time, but after fertilization, rake the soil to remove all rocks and sticks. Work the soil well, about 10-15 inches deep, so that the roots to the plants can get the most nutrients from the soil around their roots.
Keep in mind that the best time when to plant okra is about two to three weeks after the chance of frost has passed. Planting okra should be done one to two inches apart in a row. They do best this way.
Once your growing okra is up and out of the ground, you can thin the okra to about one foot apart. When you plant the okra, it might be helpful to plant it in shifts so that you can get an even flow of ripe crops throughout the summer.
Make sure when planting okra you are prepared to water them every seven to ten days. They can handle dry conditions, but the water is definitely helpful. Be sure to remove the weeds carefully around your growing okra plants. Also, remove any grass you might find growing.
You will find that when growing okra, the okra will be ready for harvest in about two months from the moment you plant them. After harvesting okra, you can store them in the refrigerator for later use, or you can even blanch and freeze them for use in the winter in stews and soups.