Valued as a key ingredient in authentic Southern gumbo and other soups and stews, okra can also be roasted, pickled, dipped, or grilled. Despite being slow to evolve from seeding to fruiting, pods form repeatedly and quickly in late summer.
- Soak seeds overnight or scarify by slightly nicking seed coats to speed germination.
- Plant indoors in April. Sow seeds ¾ in. deep.
- Wait until soil temperature is 75 degrees or above to transplant or to sow outdoors in June or July. Okra is very sensitive to cold.
- Thin direct-sown plants or set transplants 12 in. apart in rows at least 2 ft. apart.
- Stake plants at 4-5 ft. tall, or for a bushy plant, top stems when they reach 9-12 in.
- Side-dress okra lightly with nitrogen fertilizer such as fish emulsion at 8 in. tall.
- Side-dress again when plants reach 4 ft. tall and pods are set.
- Meet most of the crop’s needs with the regular application of compost.
- Avoid over-fertilization that results in beautiful leaves without quality pods.
- Harvest 2-4 in. long pods for continuous production.
- Do not allow pods to become overly mature or they will be tough and continued fruiting will slow or stop completely.
- Use clippers or a knife when harvesting to avoid contact with foliage that may cause irritation.
- Avoid planting where tomatoes or eggplants were previously grown to avoid Fusarium and Verticillium wilts.
- Set collars around seedlings to prevent earwig and cutworm damage.
- Keep plants weed free; mallow weeds can carry a rust disease that infects okra.
- Remove and discard a diseased plant—one with yellow, wilted leaves.
- Irrigate regularly in summer. Insects are more prevalent when okra is water-stressed.
- Wash off any aphids, flea beetles, or whiteflies with a strong stream from a hose.
- Sonoma County Master Gardener Vegetable Planting Summary.