Okra is a vegetable that keeps on giving all summer long. When you harvest a pod, another grows in its place. It’s related to the hibiscus plant and produces similarly beautiful flowers. Okra grows best in hot climates, but even if you live in a Northern region, you can grow okra by starting it from seed indoors and transplanting when the weather warms up.
- To start seeds inside, plant the seeds in peat seed starter and keep them well-watered. Put them in a warm, sunny room or use grow lamps to keep them warm during the germination period. Keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When the weather warms up and you’re ready to transplant the seedlings, follow the same steps you’d use to grow okra from seed outdoors.
2 Choose the sunniest spot in your garden. Okra grows best in full, hot sun. If you try to grow it in a shady spot, it won’t produce much fruit, if it lives at all. Okra should be planted in a location that gets at least 6 hours of full sun every day. Don’t worry that it’ll get too hot – okra really gets going at summer’s peak, when the sun beats down on the garden at its hottest.
3 Correct the soil’s pH. Okra grows best in a soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. test your soil’s pH level to determine whether it is in the proper pH range. You can work in limestone or bone meal to increase the soil’s pH. If you’d prefer not to change the pH level of your soil using any drastic measures, you can simply work in plenty of compost, which will drive the pH towards neutral, or 7.
4 Enrich the soil with nutrients. Okra grows well in very rich soil that’s packed with nutrients. You can enrich your soil using compost, bagged organic fertilizer, or 4-6-6 slow release fertilizer. Either way, till the soil to a depth of 12 inches (30.5 cm) and work in 4 inches (10.2 cm) of compost or fertilizer using a garden rake so that it’s evenly distributed.
- Neglecting to add nutrients to the soil may result in okra plants that don’t produce a lot of fruit.
5 Sow the seeds or plant the seedlings. When the weather is warm, it’s time to plant the okra in your garden. Sow your seeds 4 inches (10.2 cm) apart at a depth of 1⁄2inch (1.3 cm). If you started your seeds indoors, handle the seedlings very carefully and plant them 1 foot (0.3 m) apart in rows 3 feet (0.9 m) apart. Dig holes large enough to hold the root balls and gently pat the soil around the base of the plants. Water the garden to help set the soil.
- If you want to speed the germination of your seeds, you can soak them overnight the night before planting, or freeze them to crack the shells.
- If you’re transplanting seedlings, do not break their tiny taproots. If they get crushed, the seedlings will not grow.