All New Square Foot Gardening

Okra

AT A GLANCE

Botanical Information

Family: Malva Height: 3 to 6 feet A/B/P, Hardiness: annual Spacing: 1 plant per square

Growing Season Spring: no Summer: yes Fall: no Winter: no

Seed to Harvest/Flower: 12 weeks Seeds Storage: 2 years Weeks to Maturity: 10 weeks Indoor Seed Starting: 6 to 8 weeks before last frost Earliest Outdoor Planting: After soil has warmed, 7 to 10 days after last frost

Additional Plantings: not needed Last Planting: not needed

Description

Okra is a tall, warm-season, annual vegetable. It is a pretty plant with large hibiscus-like yellow flowers and heart-shaped leaves and a thick woody stem. The edible part is a long, ribbed, fuzzy pod that can be yellow, red, or green. Once the flowers have bloomed the pods grow very quickly, so check the plant daily for young pods as these have the best flavor and texture. Okra loves hot weather and may not get a long enough period of heat to grow well in areas with a short growing season, but try it anyway as it does grow very quickly during the hottest days of summer.

Starting

Location: full sun

Seeds Indoors: 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost, soak seeds overnight and plant at a depth of 1 inch. Transplanting: Set seedlings out after the soil has warmed, 7 to

10 days after the last frost. Seeds Outdoors: Soak seeds overnight, then plant 1 inch deep, 2 weeks after the last frost, and at least 3 months before the first fall frost.

Growing

Watering: Weekly, 1 cup per plant.

Maintenance: Remove old, hard pods from the plant unless you are saving them for seed or dried arrangements.

Harvesting

How: Cut pods from plant with a pruner or knife. Breaking or pulling the pods can damage the plant.

Basil and Beyond

When: Harvest pods daily when they are young, no more than 4 inches long. Older pods can be too tough to eat.

Preparing and Using

Okra can be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag for 2 to 3 days, or it may be frozen for up to 12 months after blanching whole for 2 minutes. Cooked okra can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Okra can be served raw, marinated in salads, or cooked on its own, and goes well with tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, and eggplant. Whole, fresh okra pods also make excellent pickles. And don't forget to make some gumbo.

Problems

Aphids, cabbage worms, verticillium or fusarium wilt.

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