Growing Okra Vegetable (Lady Finger)
Okra, popularly known as ‘Lady Finger’ due to its distinct shape of pods, is a favorite fruiting vegetable in India. The Scientific name of this delicious green vegetable is Abelmoschus Esculentus, & it belongs to Family Malvaceae (Hibiscus or Mallow family). Although Okra is a summer vegetable, it is cultivated in India throughout the year.
Okra – The Green delicacy:
Lady Finger is eaten as cooked vegetable in Indian cuisine. Green pods are chopped & stirred fried with spices in various dry or gravy preparations.
‘Bhindi Masala,’ ‘stuffed Bhindi,’ ‘Bhindi Sambar’ are some of the very popular Okra recipes in India.
Nutritional value of Okra:
Okra is a health food. It’s rich in dietary fiber content, plus there is a large amount of slimy and soluble fiber in the pods.
Okra contains Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Vitamins A, B & C. It is also known for its antioxidant properties.
How to Grow Okra from Seeds?
- Okra is a sun loving plant. It can be grown in raised beds as well as in containers kept under open sunlight.
- It is grown by direct seed sowing in containers or beds, as most of the okra varieties cannot withstand transplantation shock.
- Okra needs 2 x 2 ft spacing between plants on raised beds. Grow the single plant in regular 14-16 inch pot.
- Sow okra seeds in well-drained soil rich in added organic manure like compost or vermicompost.
Germination Time and Harvesting of Okra:
Okra plant will start flowering at the beginning of the 2nd month; Raw Okra pods can be harvested within 40-50 days from the sowing of seeds & harvesting season can continue for next three months or so.
Water your potted Okra plant every day in summer & every alternate day in winter. Water at the soil near the plant. Use a watering can to make certain that the plants get water in the form of the shower & not by a single flow. You can also make provision for watering by drip irrigation system on your raised beds.
Okra pests and diseases:
Pesky pests like Aphids, Stinkbugs, Corn Earworms, Cabbage Loopers and Flea Beetles. A soilborne disease – Fusarium Wilt too poses a threat to the green veggie. If the Okra leaves turn yellow and wilt, discard and destroy the plant completely.
Fertilizer for Okra:
If you have rich, organic soil, then you do not need any fertilizer. However, feeding the plant with seaweed / fish fertilizer will boost the plant’s growth.
Okra companion plants:
Varieties of Okra:
- ‘Annie Oakley’, grows about 5 feet tall. It has spineless pods and takes 52 days to mature.
- ‘Park’s Candelabra Branching’, branches at the base.
- ‘Louisiana Green Velvet’, this smooth and spineless Okra variety vigorous and grows up to 6 feet.