Okra is a vegetable that has absolutely no tolerance to frost, so the first thing to take into consideration when planning to plant is making sure that any threat of frost has passed.
Planting the Seeds
- Soaking your okra seeds in tepid water overnight before sowing them will speed up germination.
- Approximately 3-4 weeks before the last frost date, you can begin your okra seeds indoors in peat pots as long as they are exposed to lots of light.
- If you are willing to cover your outdoor plants with a cold frame, you can also sow the seeds directly in your garden about 3-4 weeks before the last spring frost date. A grow tunnel works well, too, but you need to make sure the tunnel is tall enough to give your plants the room they need to grow.
- When your outside soil warms to above about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you can safely plant your seeds in your garden.
- Okra needs to be planted about an inch deep in well-draining soil that receives full sun. Space your plants at least a foot apart (you might even want to space them up to two feet apart), and space the rows up to four feet apart so you have ample room to walk out and harvest your crop.
Unless you have a greenhouse at your disposal, okra can be successfully grown in USDA growing zones 5-12. Okra loves the heat!
Most varieties of okra pods are ready to be harvested in less than two months. The pods are usually harvested when they are two to three inches long, or in the very tender stage. But be aware that okra pods will turn from the tender stage to the tough (mature) stage very quickly. Once they become tough, they are not recommended for use in most recipes.
You need to be certain that your okra receives about an inch of water every week. In the spring, apply compost or a slow-acting general-purpose fertilizer. Supplemental light feedings (side-dressings or foliar spray) should be given monthly throughout the entire growing season.
A few times during the growing season, you might also apply a foliar spray of liquid seaweed extract to increase your yield of okra.