One easy way to include more okra in your diet is to add okra to your vegetable garden. Okra is very sensitive to cold; the yield decreases with temperatures less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, okra has a short season, which permits it to be grown almost anywhere in the United States. The plant will grow in any warm, well-drained soil and needs a place in full sun.
Plant okra from seed in your garden about four weeks after the average date of last frost. Plant the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep. When the seedlings are growing strongly, thin them to stand 12 to 18 inches apart. Keep the plants on the dry side. The stems rot easily in wet or cold conditions. Okra will grow for a year if not killed by frost and if old pods are not left on the plant.
The time from planting to harvest is 50 to 65 days. When mature, the pods are 6 to 10 inches long and filled with buckshot-like seeds. When the plants begin to set their pods, harvest them at least every other day. Pods grow quickly, and unless the older ones are cut off, the plant will stop producing new ones. Keep picking the pods when they're quite small; the pods are less gluey when they're only about two inches long.
Grow these different types of okra, depending on the length of your season:
- Clemson Spineless, which should be harvested 56 days after planting, is an All America Selection. It is a compact plant with dark green, straiht, spineless pods.
- Annie Oakley is a compact variety with a short season. Harvest in 52 days.