guide on how to grow okra. Okra is very popular in West Africa especially Nigeria. It is eaten with semolina, pounded yam, Eba, Fufu and Amala. It is also found in southern part of the United States of America.
Perfect for gardens or commercial production the botanical name is Abelmoschus esculentus. It requires loamy soil, full sun to grow. Bloom time is summer and it produces beautiful white and yellow flowers.
The vegetable is easy to grow, low in calories and an ideal garden plant.
Guide to home slaughter
To eat okra you need to boil, roast or fry. It is pickled, stir-fried or eaten raw.
There are varieties that grow 6 to 8 feet tall while some are relatively short at 5 feet tall. Recommended varieties are Louisiana green velvet, parks, Candelabra and Annie Oakley.
• Louisiana green velvet
• Annie Oakley
Pests and Diseases
Common pests are diseases are corn earthworms and aphids. Others are fusarium wilt and stinkbugs.
• Fusarium wilt
Start the process of planting before the last spring frost date. To grow okra seeds indoors you need full light for one month.
If you decide to plant directly in your garden at same period you need to provide warmth. To keep warm cover the plant with a cold frame. The cover should be 4 feet tall for adequate space for the plant to grow.
Some farmers wait for warm weather before introducing the seeds. Soak them in tepid water overnight to speed germination. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep and space them 15 inches apart.
Ideal soil is well-drained, fertile soil, temperature of 65F. Space okra transplants 2 feet apart with rows 4 feet apart.
The plant requires 1 inch water per week. Water regularly in summer and avoid waterlogged soil. Remove weeds around young plants to discourage competition. Then thin 3 inches tall seedlings 17 inches apart.
Use old manure, compost and apply layer of mulch 7 inches high. Other soil preparation and amendment techniques include provision of liquid fertilizer. To speed up production after first harvest remove the lower leaves.
Harvesting and Storage
The plant grows fast therefore harvesting is in 8 weeks. Some okra varieties are very tall while others are short. If you leave the okra too long it will get very hard.
The plant protects itself by producing tiny spines that irritate skin. To prevent cut, bruises use long sleeves/gloves and cut stem above the cap.
Without refrigeration okra can last 4 days. With refrigeration it can keep for a month or two.