Okra is a perennial plant that belongs to the plant family Malvaceae and it is botanically known as Abelmoschus esculentus and the name of this plant “okra” is believed to have been derived from the Igbo word “Okuru.”
The okra plant is believed to have originated from Ethiopia, West Africa, and South Asia with so much controversy between these places to know where this plant is native to and about 90% of the okra fruit is made up of water.
The okra plant is cultivated for its fibrous fruit which is the most edible part of the plant and this plant generally thrives well in the tropical and temperate regions of the world as a result of their ability to withstand heat well.
There are generally two varieties of this plant known around the world and they differ based on the color of the fruit or seed bod and they include the red and green varieties.
The okra fruits have been an important vegetable plant consumed as a part of cuisine among the Indians and it has also been an important staple food among the developing African countries; this plant got introduced to the European countries during the 18th century.
The okra plant is a highly nutritious plant to grow around the home and it is a very good source of vitamins A, K, C, and E, folate, and those of the B groups; minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and potassium; and dietary fibers.
Okra plants can grow to a height of about 7 feet depending on the species being cultivated and the leaves of this plant can grow to about 10 – 20 centimeters.
The leaves and seeds of the okra plants have been used for different things in some specific parts of the world; the leaves of the plant can be cooked or consumed raw when added to salads while the okra seeds are used for the production of oil.
Okra plants have stems that are highly fibrous and almost every part of this plant is considered to be beneficial for human use, therefore cultivating this plant will be a superb investment.
Okra is a very easy plant to grow and learning to grow them will give you a chance to be able to produce that lovely diet that you’ve wanted to make for a very long time, especially if you love consuming this nutritious vegetable, growing your own okra will improve the quality of its fruit that you consume.
In this article, we will take you through the steps to follow when growing okra at home so you should put in your effort into growing such a highly nutritious plant in your garden. Do have a great reading period!
When is the right time to grow Okra at home?
Okra is a sun-loving plant that thrives well in the temperate and tropical regions of the world and they thrive well under temperature that lies between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before going through the steps to follow when growing okra plants at home, we will be discussing more about the appropriate time when this plant should be grown for the best development possible.
This plant does not have the ability to survive the cold seasons of the year i.e. it cannot withstand frost and winter well, however, if you live in a place with cold climatic condition growing okra is very possible.
Okra plants are best planted in spring when the last frost has passed and the soil has warmed up to at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit or early summer.
For those who reside in very cool regions, planting okra plants is possible; however, the seeds need to be started indoors where the temperature is higher.
The okra plants should be started in peat soil in about six weeks before the last expected frost date (depending on how long the frost lasts in your location); just make sure you pay careful attention to the specific date of the last frost for the best result possible.
How to Grow Okra at Home
Growing your okra plants at home is easier than you could have ever thought and these plants are the easy-to-grow and maintain type.
Okra plants produce fruits that can be made into pickles and they are also cooked in some African countries to make a different type of stew that is specific to their cultures and traditions.
Here, we will discuss the step-to-step guide to follow when growing the okra plant so you should read further to learn more about them. Below are the steps to follow when growing okra at home:
Purchase the seeds:
there are different cultivated varieties of the okra plants which include Clemson Spineless, Emerald, and Green Velvet.
Each variety has specific things that make them different so you might want to read more about them before making your purchase.
However, the seeds to grow should be purchased much earlier before the growing season to save you unnecessary delay.
You should also check for the varieties that grow best in your region so as to be assured of the best development possible; however, trying something new is not a bad idea either.
Allow the seeds to soak well:
even though okra is easy to plant, the seeds have a hard coat which slows down the rate of germination. Soaking the seeds will help reduce the texture of the hard covering making it much easier for the plant seeds to grow.
The seeds should be soaked in warm water overnight before planting is carried out and this process is known as scarification.
Prepare the growing site:
Okra plants are sun-loving plants and will thrive in a place where the soil receives at least 8 hours of sunlight daily. Also, the soil should be well-draining and fertile enough to ensure germination; if the soil is poor, work in compost to improve the soil nutrient availability.
The soil pH is another thing to look out for, okra germinates well in slightly alkaline soil especially at a range of 6.5 through 7.0; you can add lime to increase the soil pH if it is too acidic.
Make sure that the soil is well-fortified with everything that will enhance the growth and development of the crop plant. NB: this should have been done ahead of the growing season or period.
Sow the seeds:
The seeds should be planted when the daytime temperature reaches about 85 degrees Fahrenheit and you should make furrows that are 1” deep.
The furrows should have a spacing of 24” and the seeds should be carefully planted along the furrow at a depth of 4”.
The seeds should be spaced at a distance of 6” apart to provide efficient space for the spread and efficient growth. Carefully cover the sown seed with soil and water well to ensure germination.
Thin the seedlings:
If you’ve planted more than one seeds per hole, the seedlings should be thinned as soon as they reach about 2” inch.
The seedlings should be thinned to a plant per foot to ensure the best germination possible and the plant left should be very healthy and strong.
Mulch the seedlings:
Once the seedlings have been thinned well, the base of the plant should be provided with a generous layer of mulch.
When carrying out mulching, ensure that the base of the plant does not get in contact with the mulch. Okra plants develop leaves that are large enough to shade out weeds that can grow around the plant.
Water the plants frequently:
The okra plant should be watered well during the germination and flowering stages. However, once the plant grows larger and can tolerate dry conditions better this might not be very necessary.
Water is essential for the development of plants so you should provide the okra plant with it when needed. In very dry seasons, water should be supplied to the plant base at least once in every 10 days by deep soaking.
Harvest the plant:
The immature fruits of okra are usually because once matured they become fibrous and not easy to consume.
The pods/fruits should be harvested once it has reached a length of about 2” to 3” and this should be done with a pruning shear. They produce fruits until frost and they should be harvested as soon as they are big enough.
Growing your own okra plant can be done just around your home in any place that receives sunlight well, therefore, if you are a lover of this tasty and nutritious fruit then you should learn to propagate this plant.
This will make you appreciate what you consume more and you will have access to them at any time that you desire. Have a great time gardening!
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