The secrets of growing okra
Like many gardeners, it’s always interesting for me to try out something new - what if a new culture or variety will be worthy and “take root” in our family? Once my inquisitive gaze fell on okra, and I decided to certainly get to know this mysterious culture better. In the first season, I planted only two bushes and got a tiny crop. He did not allow me to fully enjoy this culture, but he made it possible to learn that okra, as they also call okra, has a very pleasant taste and is worth it to grow it in a larger volume.
After that, I decided to plant okra in a significant amount, but, as it turned out, it was real luck that in the first year this vegetable did not cause me any problems. In the future, I could not get an okra crop for several years in a row. And only in the third season I was able to again feel the pleasant buttery taste of the pods of this unusual plant. In this article, I would like to analyze all the problems associated with growing okra to give gardeners the opportunity to get a significant harvest in the first season.
The main problem of okra at the seedling stage is an excessive tendency to stretch. Okra sprouts literally emerge from the ground already in an overgrown state - 6, or even 10 centimeters long. In the future, this leads to the fact that the seedlings bend, lie down and twist among themselves, complicating the picking. To avoid this, the containers with crops are initially kept on the south window, or they are moved to the minimum distance to the phytolamp.
Many sources say that the okra does not like transplants, but I did not notice that the senile sentsi suffered greatly. In addition, this will help to deepen the long leg, if the seedlings still outgrew.
Nevertheless, I still prefer to sow two seeds in individual half-liter pots from the very beginning, germination at the okra is usually good, and extra seedlings can be simply plucked. At the same time, I initially fall asleep in half, and as the seedling grows, I gradually sprinkle the earth, and new roots form on the stem.
One of the most serious problems when growing okra is planting in open ground. It was at this stage that I repeatedly completely lost a beautiful strong seedlings. The fact is that, although in the future, okra can grow as a huge plant with a thick trunk, becoming like a palm tree, okra seedlings are extremely vulnerable.
Unaware of this, I traditionally tried to plant okra in the middle of May along with tomatoes and peppers. But for the okra it turned out to be disastrous, all that the familiar cultures endured without serious problems. Due to the fact that in seedlings, okra has very thin, weak stems, it can be problematic even to bring it to the landing site without loss in the car. What can I say if the weather at this time is too windy ...
Another problem is temperature. Okra is more sensitive to low temperatures, and if most vegetables are killed precisely by frost, then even a close to zero mark can become fatal for thermophilic okra. It was the combination of wind, rain and low temperatures in May that led me to completely lose seedlings for several years in a row, which was planted with a strong, healthy and lush life.
The benefits of late sowing okra seedlings
Summarizing my negative experience, I came to the conclusion that planting okra seedlings in May in our climate is too risky, which meant that it was necessary to radically revise the sowing dates.
Most sources recommend sowing okra for seedlings from mid-March to April. However, most likely, such an early date is recommended because okra seedlings sometimes have to be expected within 2 to 3 weeks. My experience has shown that the most common soaking of okra seeds in the Epin-Extra preparation significantly reduces the germination time, and seedlings of most varieties appear within a few days (a maximum of a week).
After germination, the okra begins to grow at a tremendous speed, and during the March sowing by May, seedlings reach considerable size, which increases the risk that long stems will break for various reasons. Practice has shown that before the stems harden as they grow, even a garter does not save, because they break even in the places where they were tied.
Thus, I decided to completely abandon the early crops, and sowed the seeds only in early May. This was done the same way as when planting in early spring - indoors, on the southern windowsill, in individual cups, after preliminary soaking of the seeds.
Seedlings came to a permanent place only in the last days of May, when there was real summer weather, and there were no cold strong winds and the threat of significant cooling. Thanks to the late sowing, the seedlings were not overgrown, they better transported and took root more quickly.
In the summer sun, the okra immediately started to grow and soon reached impressive size. Individual specimens, which got the most sun, exceeded 1.5 meters in height and had huge lobed leaves, creating the feeling of the tropics. The okra blossomed in late July, and in August I was already able to harvest.
The difficulties of harvesting okra
I would immediately like to draw attention to the fact that okra is a relatively low-yielding plant. To pick up a significant number of pods, to sample and eat plenty, you will have to have a small plantation, a couple of bushes can not do here.
Okra pods are harvested when they reach a size of 4-5 centimeters. When you go to harvest, be sure to grab a pair of scissors or a pruner, as the pods are very difficult to tear off from the stem by hand. The anatomy of this plant is such that the fruits are in the axils of the leaves, if the pod is inadvertently torn off, the nearby leaf will dry out and this will weaken the plant.
Sometimes it is tempting to hold the fruits longer so that they increase in size. However, the fibers harden rapidly, the outer fibers coarsen and the pods become unfit for food.
The main indicator that you collected the fruits on time is the ease of cutting. Young fruits are very easy to chop, but if you have difficulty cutting pods, these are overripe fruits that will not become soft even after cooking and it is better to throw them away. Seeds from unripe okra pods do not need to be selected, after cooking they also become soft and tasty.
The taste of okra is not easy to describe, but if you are a fan of asparagus beans and a lover of vegetable dishes, then you will certainly enjoy it. For me, this is an improved version of green beans, more oily and saturated.
The varieties of okra that I grew
This season, I tested three of the most popular varieties of okra. I would like to tell a little about each of them.
Okra "Lady's fingers"
This option is the most affordable, and the seeds of this variety can be found in many retail outlets. Nevertheless, of the three tested varieties, he showed himself an outsider. This okra turned out to have the narrowest pods and the thinnest walls, as a result - there is little pulp.
In the section, they were pentagonal, with a wall 1 mm thick. Above the fruits were covered with hairs and had a light green color. The height of the bushes was also lower than the rest, about 40 centimeters.
In terms of taste: okra “Ladies' fingers” was no different from other varieties, so to make an opinion whether you like okra, you can safely plant this variety.
Okra "Eagle Pass"
It was plants of this variety that gave the highest bushes - more than 1.5 meters in height with a thick trunk 3 centimeters in diameter and large lobed leaf blades - about 30 centimeters.
In addition to its impressive size, the most remarkable in the Eagle Pass variety is pods. They are of the same light green color and are covered with small stripes, like the Ladies Fingers variety. But the pod consists of many faces, and when cut, it is found that the fetus has a noticeably thicker wall - 2-3 millimeters. This, of course, affects the overall productivity for the better, and the multifaceted pod itself is noticeably thicker.
In addition, such a star-like structure makes the appearance of the fruit more original, in a section resembling gears and stars. In the description of this variety, it is stated that it is distinguished by a reduced mucus content, and for some housewives this is an additional plus, since additional processing is not required to remove excess mucous juice.
Despite the powerful trunk, this okra had to be tied to a support, since the adult “palm tree”, although it does not break, is knocked to the side in the wind.
Okra "Alabama Red"
The main difference between the variety is the dark red color of the stem and petioles, while the leaves are green, although the veins are also slightly reddish. The flowers of this variety are no different from other okra cultivars - lemon-colored petals, and in the center there are small burgundy patches.
By virtue of the name of the variety, one might sometimes think that the pods of this okra should be distinguished in red, but this is not entirely true. They are also light green and differ only in a small burgundy-red spraying closer to the tip of the pod.
The fruits of this variety remain tender longer and do not rough, even when they grow to a length of 10 centimeters. Another feature is a pleasant sweetish taste that is not inherent in most other varieties. "Alabama Red" is quite high, and adult plants reached a height of 1 to 1.5 meters.
Dear readers! Okra has many interesting varieties, the seeds of which can be purchased from collectors. In the future, I plan to test new cultivars of okra in my conditions to select some of the best varieties. At the moment, the okra “Eagle Pass” turned out to be the best for me. I will continue the experiment next season.