Okra can withstand the Texas heat
By Geary Hare “I checked and we don’t have any okra sprouts yet,” I told Martha one afternoon. “Geary, we just planted them yesterday,” she replied.
Okra, along with black-eyed peas, summer greens, and sweet potatoes, are vegetables we can plant in June.
Okra can be planted through August. Okra seeds should be planted one-inch deep, spaced 12 to 18-inches apart, with 3-foot row spacing.
Martha is right, okra plants aren’t going to sprout in a day. Okra seeds can take up to two weeks to sprout. Soaking seeds overnight in water will help them sprout sooner.
Soaking them in milk overnight will help the seeds sprout even sooner (but not in one day). The lactic acid in milk works to soften the hard seed coats on okra seeds.
I planted okra seeds on April 1st, near the beginning of okra planting season. Okra plants require very little care. Okra comes from Africa so it is drought resistant. When it doesn’t rain, watering your okra once per week will produce a better yield.
This year I planted our okra in a remote location and don’t plan to water it at all. We will see how it does. It was good that we got the big rain at the beginning of April to get the plants started growing. The extra rain drowned 2/3 of my green beans, but made the okra happy.
About the only maintenance you need to do with your okra is to harvest it regularly.
What we are eating when we have okra is the seed pods.
Once an okra plant makes its seeds, it figures its job is done and it will stop producing. If you don’t harvest okra and it goes to seed, it will stop producing. Okra is fast growing so you should harvest every day or two.
Okra should be harvested when it is four to six-inches long. If you let it get too long, the pods will get hard and woody. Okra is prolific, producing into the fall, so be ready for lots of food once your okra plants start making.
Okra can be boiled or pickled. I like it fried. Martha cooks okra by lightly salting it to bring out the moisture.
Then she coats it with cornmeal and fries it in canola oil. You can pickle or can okra. But if you don’t like boiled okra, you aren’t going to want to can it. You can slice okra and freeze it. We have tried freezing it with and without the cornmeal batter. It seems tastier when frozen without batter, then adding it right before cooking. Frozen okra isn’t as good as fresh, but it’s a nice treat in December or January.
A big advantage of growing okra is that it is one of the few vegetables that we grow in Jackson County that will continue to produce in July through September when most other crops have given up to our summer heat.
Now we have okra sprouts. It took them less than a week to come up after soaking them overnight in milk.
Yes, I made Martha walk to the remote location to admire the sprouts.
Keep on growing!
Geary Hare of Edna is an avid gardener. For questions, contact Geary at ghare@ msn.com.