is one of those "unusual" vegetables that home gardeners often don't think about growing in backyard gardens. Although it's popular in Southern recipes
, okra can be grown easily anywhere in the country.
Okra grows best from seed planted directly in the garden. Plant seeds about an inch deep in mid-spring when the soil is warm. Okra prefers warm weather, so there's no hurry to plant as soon as frost subsides. Plant okra in well-drained soil with lots of compost. Seeds should be spaced several inches apart in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Thin plants to 6 inches apart once they are a few inches tall.
Most okra varieties take about 50 days from planting to harvest. Okra plants grow to be quite tall, often over 6 feet. The edible pods will grow from the plant following pink flowers. Harvest these pods when they are between 2 and 3 inches long. Waiting too long will result in a tougher texture. You'll want to wear gloves to protect your arms from the short, spiny hairs on the plant, and use pruning shears to cleanly cut the pods from the stem. Harvest daily for maximum plant production.
Enjoy homegrown okra
in these recipes: