How to Grow a Ton of Okra in Your Backyard
The fact that you are reading this article means you already eat Okra as part of your diet, so I won't bore you with Okra's history etc. instead I'll jump right into the details about how to grow a ton organically. Okra is relatively easy to grow and when done right, the plant keeps giving excellent harvest. My goal in this article is to share some tips to grow Okra and help you achieve good harvest in your own backyard.
Okra grows best in hot climates (we live in Florida so there is enough sun and heat) so your mileage from following these tips may vary depending on where you live. With that said, let's get into the details.
Okra plants grow fast and reasonably tall (up to 6-8 feet) so plan on having plenty of space between plants. The roots of the plant grow deep as well (up to 4 feet) so if you are planning on growing in a container or a raised garden bed, ensure that the container is deep enough for the plant to establish well.
Tip: If you are using a garden bed, plant them along the corners so that you don't lose too much workable space in the center for other plants (see our picture below).
Okra needs full sun and hot conditions. Make sure you plant Okra in a non-shaded area where there is full sun exposure. Coming to soil, you can grow Okra in ordinary garden soil but they grow best in rich balanced soil (mix of sand, silt, and clay). Not everyone can afford to spend lots of money on soil so enrich the soil you have with good amounts of compost and let nature do the rest for you.
Tip: As with all plants, crop rotation is a good way to ensure that soil is in good condition for the plant. Nitrogen-fixing crops like peas or beans grown previously help future plants grow better.
Regular watering is needed for Okra especially during flowering and pod development. If the conditions are extremely dry for longer periods, deep soaking once in a while is beneficial. One general tip is to add mulch to the plant base to reduce excessive drying of the soil.
Okra is no exception in demanding a rich soil packed with nutrients. Keep adding organic matter to the soil on a regular basis; like manure, compost, bone meal, blood meal etc. (once a month is working fine for us). Take advantage of the free compost provided by your county. Bone meal helps produce lots of vegetables and result in abundant harvest.
Tip: If you don't have the luxury of free compost from your county, refer to our article with details about no-nonsense composting found here.
#5 Pest Control:
As with every plant - if your plants are well fed and healthy, they have a natural tendency to defend themselves from pests. However, keep an eye especially on the buds and under the leaves, and ensure the situation does not get out of your hands. Aphids and stinkbugs are some common bugs that attack Okra plants and if you need some tips for controlling pests organically check out our article here.
Once the first okra pod emerges and matures, you can begin harvesting on a regular basis. Okra tastes delicious when young and tender, make sure that you harvest when they reach 3-4 inches in size. The longer you leave them on the plant they become tough and inedible. Depending on the plant's health, you might want to scout for fresh Okra twice a day as they grow super fast.
On a side note, if you already are an experienced gardener, let us know what method worked for you and share any tips or tricks in the comments below.
That's all from me and hope this was helpful to you. Peace !!!