Okra, known in Western countries as gumbo, is a favorite flowering vegetable plant used as a thickening agent in stews. A warm-season crop, it grows well during early to mid summer. The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center describes an easy way to grow okra in the garden.
- Purchase fresh seeds, and soak overnight
Pre-soak the seeds overnight in warm water to soften the hard coat on the seeds and to ensure best emergence. Start okra in early to mid-spring when the soils have warmed well.
- Plant the seeds in well-drained soils with plenty of sunlight
Plant the seeds about a half-inch deep and 2 inches apart in a mound, leaving at least 2 feet of space between each mound. The okra plant grows well in almost all types of soil provided that the soils are well drained, as it does not tolerate flooding or wet soil conditions. When the plant is 3 inches high, choose the healthiest looking plant in a mound, and thin out the rest.
- Fertilize and mulch the soil
Use a higher ratio of phosphorous and potassium and a lower nitrogen ratio when fertilizing the soil. Side dress the plant with 1/4 pound of 21-0-0 fertilizer per 100 square feet. Add black plastic mulches on the soil to prevent weed competition and to warm the soil.
- Harvest the pods
Harvest the pods when they are still immature, tender and about 3 to 5 inches long. Cut the stem, leaving a quarter of an inch of stalk on the pod, or pull the pod downward to collect the pod.