Row by Row Episode 247: Growing Okra In The Garden
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Row by Row Episode 247: Growing Okra In The Garden

Row by Row Episode 247: Growing Okra In The Garden

The biggest mistake we encounter from our customers is planting okra seeds too soon in the season. There are many factors in getting it right when it comes to growing lots of Okra, for instance, starting seeds at the right time, choosing the right variety, fertilization, knowing when to harvest, and much more! Join us tonight as we discuss one of our favorite things to grow and eat! Okra! Let's Grow Together!

The Right Time:

 A major factor in starting your okra seeds is timing. If you are planning a Spring crop, okra seeds should be started indoors and transplanted. However, for a Summer and Fall okra harvest, you can easily direct seed because the soil temperature has had plenty of time to warm up. The biggest mistake we encounter from our customers is planting okra seeds too soon in the season. Okra seeds will not germinate if the soil is too cool. Be sure that your soil temperature has been consistently 70°F – 75°F and all danger of frost has passed before direct sowing or transplanting. Because okra is such a heat loving plant, it makes an excellent crop for succession planting. Wait for the soil to warm in the Spring to transplant, then easily have another crop direct sown behind it to enjoy okra all the way into summer and fall until the first frost hits. Okra seeds should be started indoors at least 6 weeks before the last frost date for your zone. We recommend using our 162 Seed Trays for best results. We have everything that you need to be successful starting okra seeds. 

The Right Variety- Hybrid or Heirloom:

Heirlooms are varieties that have not been crossbred for 40-50 years or more. These varieties can be passed down through generations and keep their characteristics through those generations because of the careful planting to prevent cross-pollination. Hybrid varieties have been specifically bred to have characteristics that are desirable to the grower. These characteristics can be anything from size, color, flavor, or disease resistance.  Tried and True Okra Varieties Jambalaya Okra is a hybrid variety that is the most productive we’ve ever tried. Plants produce heavy yields of green pods that are great for pickling, frying, and stewing. Clemson Spineless Okra produce pods that can reach 7-9″ in length, but are best harvested between 3-4″ long. Large plants will grow as large as 6′ in optimally-warm growing conditions. Green Fingers Okra is a unique hybrid variety that produces small, flavorful 3-4″ green pods and is ideal for gardens of all sizes but has been specifically bred to be small enough for container gardening.  Heirloom Okra Star of David produces deeply ribbed pods that are shorter and thicker than the traditional okra varieties. Pods are best when picked around 3 to 4 inches long. Plants can get as large as 7 feet tall. Cowhorn Okra: While other varieties may become tough when pods get long, this variety will maintain tenderness at 10″ long. Pods are at optimal tenderness when harvested about 6″ long.  Emerald Green Velvet Okra: This variety is a favorite in Louisiana where it can be found in a wide variety of Cajun dishes. Emerald Green Velvet produces long, ribbed pods that will tend to stay tender at longer lengths than other varieties. Novelty Okra Chinese Okra is an heirloom, multi-purpose variety that can be used as okra substitute when harvested young, or for making sponges and other household items if allowed to dry on the vine. Jing Orange Okra is an Asian heirloom okra variety with beautiful red to orange pods that are spineless and stay tender at 6″ long. Great for frying or making stews. Red Burgundy Okra: Developed by Clemson University, this okra variety produces beautiful, deep red pods with green tips. Plants can grow as tall as 6′ and are very productive, providing bountiful harvests when picked regularly.

Pests:

Of all the pests, okra is the most susceptible to root knot nematodes. Home gardeners are limited to a few methods of controlling root knot nematodes in the garden. The best ways to control this issue is good crop rotation, succession planting and incorporating a good cover crop rotation. Aphids: Look like ants that are eating your plant. Treat with neem oil, horticulture oil, dishwashing detergent Stink Bugs: Appears as bumps on Okra. Treat with Bug Buster II

Watering:

Drip irrigation will control the amount of water each plant gets and will push water into the soil slowly and precisely for maximum absorption. Too much water too fast can cause stress to the plants and keep oxygen from getting to the root systems. On the flip side, too little water can result in low yields and increased disease and pest issues, and a host of other problems. As a good rule of thumb, regardless of how you water your okra plants, be sure they’re getting at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week but checking in on your plants and watering as needed is really the best way to manage irrigation for okra. Being sure to not only water enough, but the right way will be a major factor in your crop. Drip irrigation is the only method we recommend for irrigating your okra plants. Overhead watering is not a good option because having moisture on the leaves can introduce problems like disease and pest control resistance. Getting water directly to the base of the plant will help prevent excess evaporation, disease spreading through the crop from moisture on the leaves, and ensures water gets down into the soil directly to the root. 

Fertilization:

Several Weeks Before Planting Test your soil at your local extension office. 1 Week Before Planting After adjusting soil pH to 6.2 – 6.8, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil. 2 Weeks After Planting Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row. Every 14 days After Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Harvesting too early or too late:

Okra should be harvested when the pods are still tender and haven’t gotten too large to become fibrous. Each variety, however, is different when it comes to what size is best for eating or preserving. Cowhorn Okra, for example, can stay tender with the pods being as long as 10 inches whereas Green Fingers Okra should be harvested when the pods are between 2 to 3 inches. Be sure to check the seed packet or the product page for the maturity date to give you a better idea of how long it takes that specific okra to reach full maturity. You can also keep an eye on the flowers and once they start to drop, it’s a good sign that you should start harvesting in the next couple of days. The Best Method To Harvesting Okra Harvest your okra using a sharp knife or pruning shears and be sure to make a clean cut. Don’t yank the fruit and damage the stem, as it can introduce harmful bacteria while storing. Okra pods are delicate so be careful when handling the pods so they don’t bruise. Because okra has spines and can cause irritation to your skin, we recommend wearing gloves while harvesting to avoid discomfort. 

Storing and preserving okra:

After harvesting your okra, be sure not to wash it right away if you’re intending to store it. Washing it will cause it to get slimy and will mold. You can store okra in the fridge for up to 3 days in a ventilated bag. Okra also stores well in the freezer either by just freezing the pods or blanching beforehand. Pickled okra is a staple in Southern kitchens and is a great way to enjoy your okra throughout the year. 

Products:

OKRA 162 CELL SEED STARTING TRAY FERTILIZER

Watch the Full Video on Youtube:

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