Okra is an easy vegetable to grow that loves a sunny aspect and in Sydney that makes it a perfect plant to grow. The okra plant is related to the hibiscus and has a delicate and beautiful flower that makes it an attractive plant in the garden.
Growing habits and planting needs
Okra need a a very sunny spot in the garden with no shade. To fruit well they also need adequate water and a light friable soil free of clods and obstacles to a depth of 40 cm for the roots to penetrate easily. Their need for good drainage makes okra perfect to grow in raised garden beds.
Enrich the soil with well rotted compost and cow manure.
In the crop rotation system, okra should follow a crop of leaf plants because okra, as a fruiting plant needs potassium and less nitrogen so that leaf growth is kept in check. Leafy plants are hungry for nitrogen and will have depleted the soil making the conditions perfect for okra
Each plant needs about 90 – 120 cm space to grow properly and under optimal conditions can grow from 90 to 150 cm tall.
Seeds can be planted direct in the garden in Spring and seedlings can be planted in early Summer. Soak the seeds overnight in tepid water. Plant at a depth of 2.5 cm, spacing them 10 cm apart and watering them in with seasol. Mulching them well to conserve water and inhibit weeds.
When the seedlings are about 8 cm tall thin out spacing them 90 – 120 cm apart.
Side dress with well rotted compost after thinning and then again when the pods form.
The plants should be well watered, especially when the pods form.
Okra can be harvested in 50-60 days. The pods should be picked small when they are 5-7 cm long and are still tender.
It is important to pick the pods frequently and not allow them to mature if the plant is to keep producing well.
Use a knife to cut the pods from the plant leaving little stem above the cap.
When pod production slows you can cut back the plants to stimulate new growth and more pods.