It’s summer which means okra around these parts. This veggie loves warm weather and is the perfect plant to grow in Florida. From March through September, you’ll find okra in my garden. I start these plants from seed. in ground. about 1/2 – 3/4” deep, then stand back and watch them grow. It’s almost that easy.
In about a week or so you’ll see the first leaves popping up through the soil. Okra cab grow several feet in height so be sure to give them plenty of space when planting, about 12-18” apart.
One key ingredient to your success with okra is a well-drained soil. They like their water but do NOT want to sit in it. And they’re moderate feeders. An easy dose of fish emulsion will be all the fertilizer you need with these beauties. And a few afternoon thunderstorms. Something about fresh rain and lightning really stimulates these plants.
As with most vegetable plants, there are different varieties of okra. I usually plant Clemson Spineless, but once, I tried an interesting red version. It was neat to watch it grow and if my eyes were closed, I probably couldn’t tell the difference in taste. But still, I think I’m an old-fashioned gal when it comes to my okra and prefer the green kind. (It’s also the kind that doesn’t often make it to the house because I’m eating it fresh in the garden!)
Special note: Okra grows fast, really fast. So when you begin to see your first shoots of okra, visit your garden every day to harvest these gems before they grow too big to eat. You want okra that measures about 3-4 inches in length. Any longer, and the okra will be too tough to eat. But perfect for seed harvesting!
Problems: Watch your okra for grasshoppers. These beasts will devour your leaves and mark your plant for demise before it ever gets going. Ants can also prove to be a nuisance. When first spotted, use an organic garden spray to rid your plants of theses pests.
Good Companions: Eggplant, pepper, cucumber, black-eyed peas, melon and basil.
Bad Companions: None. They get along with everyone!
Health Benefits: Okra contains naturally occurring glutathione, arguably the most important antioxidant in the body. Optimal amounts of glutathione are necessary for supporting the immune system. Okra also helps the liver detoxify chemicals. If that wasn’t enough, it’s high in fiber which helps lower cholesterol and control symptoms of diabetes (not to mention constipation). Add the fact that it’s high in Vitamin C and magnesium, and this vegetable can work wonders on the common cold, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as lower blood pressure.
And if you eat it fresh off the stem like I do, there’s NO slime. At all. Eat more okra!