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Gardening 101, Growing Okra, How To Plant It, Its Medicinal Uses, And How To Cook it.

Updated on August 29, 2013
In this photo you can see okra growing and okra blooms where new okra will be growing
In this photo you can see okra growing and okra blooms where new okra will be growing

How To Grow Okra

Okra also known in some countries as ladies fingers or gumbo is a member of the mallow plant. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The plant is grown in tropical, and sub tropical regions around the world. It is believed that okra was first grown in west Africa but that is now in dispute with some countries in southeast Asia making the claim that okra grew there first. In Singapore Okra is known as lady fingers. In the American south especially in Louisiana a dish called Gumbo is made and it is known as Gumbo. In some parts of the world Okra is known as Gumbo.

Okra is related to such plants as hibiscus, cotton, and cocoa. You will want to watch your okra plants carefully because it can grow fast and you'll want to pick your okra pods when they are 3 - 5 inches long. The best way to harvest your okra is with a pair of garden scissors.

When you get ready to plant your okra you will want to soak your okra seeds for 24 hours and plant your okra 1-2 inches deep with the rows far enough apart to be able to keep the weeds out. If you want to work your middles with a garden tiller you will want to make the rows far enough apart to be able to work the middles with your garden tiller. You can if you wish mulch around your okra plants heavily to keep out weeds and keep in moisture but you will have to do the middles to so you can keep out weeds.

Before you plant your okra dig down below where you will plant your okra and put one pound of 5-10-5 fertilizer out for each 25 foot of row of okra. Fill the soil back over the fertilizer and when your ready to plant the okra dig rows 2 inches deep and plant your okra. When the plants are about a foot high spread more fertilizer 5-10-5 out but don't let it touch the plants or leafs of the plants. Keep the fertilizer back about 6 inches from the plants.

You will want to plant your okra after all dangers of frost has passed. Your okra will grow tall and will probably be 4-5 feet tall when grown. I can not stress enough that its very important to keep the okra cut off your plants when it is 3-4 inches long. If you let it get much longer you won't be able to use it as the okra will be too hard.

If you have space indoors you can plant your okra in flats indoors and transplant it outdoors after the danger of frost has past and the young okra plants are a foot or so tall. You will get a considerable jump on the growing season this way.

Keep in mind that your okra will need full sun and you should plant your okra in well drained organic enriched soil. Every year I fix the place I am going to plant my okra by tilling a pound of 5-10-5 fertilizer into each 25 feet of row where I will plant my okra. I soak my seeds for a full 24 hours in water before I plant my okra. And I wait until I know the soil is above 62 degrees before I plant my okra. If your family loves okra like mine plant 6 okra plants for each member of your family and you should have plenty of okra for everyone as long as you keep the 3-4 inch pods cut off the plants and let no pod of okra mature on the plants.

Have You Ever Had Deep Fried Okra?

Deep Fried Okra
Deep Fried Okra

Deep Fried Okra Recipe

Here is one of the best recipes for deep fried okra that you'll ever get to eat. First of all we are going to make what is called House Seasoning. This is an easy recipe and you can make it and use it in all kinds of southern cooking.

For House Seasoning You Will Need

1. One Cup Ground Sea Salt.

2. One Fourth Cup Fresh Ground Black Pepper.

3. One Fourth Cup Garlic Powder.

You can make the house seasoning and keep it in a large shaker.

Now your ready to make deep fried okra that will have you wanting more. In order to make delicious fried okra you will need.

1. One Half Cup Cornmeal.

2. One Cup Flour.

3. Two Teaspoons House Seasoning.

4. One Level Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper.

Mix your dry ingredients together and you'll also need a small bowl of buttermilk to use when your breading your okra, You'll want to cut up your okra into small pieces and then dip it first into your buttermilk and then into the dry mixture. Then fry your okra in 350 degree oil. You may want to stir your okra while its cooking to insure it gets brown on all sides.

Once the okra is brown on all sides remove it and drain it well on paper towels. Serve it as soon as it is drained and I bet you'll just love it. Try it with ranch dressing for a extra special tasty treat.

Stuffed Deep Fried Okra

One other way you can enjoy okra is to take a small knife and cut the ends off your okra pods that are 3-4 inches long. Take a nut pick and carefully clean the insides from your okra pods. Once you get all your okra pods cleaned out stuff them full of the below mixture.

1. One eight ounce can crab meat checked carefully for bits of crab shell.

2. One eight ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature.

3. One half cup bell pepper very finely chopped.

4. One half cup onion very finely chopped.

5. One large egg well beaten.

6. One tablespoon Cajun seasoning.

It may be a little hard to get the stuffing into the okra pods but it will be well worth the effort.

Use the breading from the fried okra above and bread your okra pods. Fry them until they are golden brown and then drain them well on paper towels. I bet you will have just created one of the most delicious okra dishes you will ever taste. I know I love it made this way and anyone that ever tastes it says that it is oh so delicious.

This Video Tells You How To Grow Okra

I really like the red pod variety of okra and really enjoy making my Gumbo with it. You can grow both varieties in your garden as long as you have 50 foot between the two varieties. If you don't they will cross.
I really like the red pod variety of okra and really enjoy making my Gumbo with it. You can grow both varieties in your garden as long as you have 50 foot between the two varieties. If you don't they will cross.

If you mulch your okra plants you won't have to worry as much about watering your okra but if the soil gets to dry you will have to water your okra plants. Harvest your okra pods before you water the okra. Only water it after the sun has gone down and its best to use a sprinkler or sprinklers so your okra gets watered evenly. Don't go back out into your okra after it is wet until it is dry again.

Common diseases that attack okra are.

1. Powdery Mildew

2. Yellow Vein Mosaic Virus

3. Leaf Spots

Ask the people at your local farm and garden center what would they suggest for the problems with your okra. If you can take a branch of your okra in that has the disease or problem on it. They will usually be able to tell you what the problem is and tell you what product you need to apply to your okra. Be sure to keep your garden and garden are clean and clear of debris. Pull up any diseased plants and dispose of them out of your garden area.

Okra is said to have great diuretic properties. Doctors say if you have kidney stones you should avoid okra.

I love fried okra and I love to add okra to my Gumbo. What would Gumbo with out okra be any way. To me there is nothing better than a good Gumbo made with fresh Gumbo from my garden. I deep fry my okra and then freeze it. This way I can thaw it and warm it up in the oven for delicious fried okra even in the middle of winter.

Keep in mind that okra will stop producing if you don't keep the pods cut off when the okra is 3-4 inches in length. If you allow the okra pods to mature the plants will stop producing new pods of okra so keep those pods picked off.

Medical Benefits Of Okra

Okra is full of valuable nutrients and it is filled with soluble fiber in the form of pectin's and gums. You should know that soluble fiber can help to lower serum cholesterol and this really helps to prevent heart disease. The insoluble fiber in the okra helps to keep the human intestinal tract clear and this helps to prevent some forms of cancer including colon cancer.

The superior fiber found in okra can help to prevent diabetes and constipation. Okra is also rich in Vitamins A, C, B6, Iron and calcium. Glutathione is also found in okra and it is a really great antioxidant. It also helps to improve heart, liver, and lung function and it boosts the human immune system.

Now that you know that okra has so many health benefits maybe you should start eating okra right away. And once you taste fried okra or some of my really good Gumbo with okra you grew I think you'll be hooked for life on okra. I want you to know I appreciate you reading my Hub Page on Okra and I hope there is some okra in your future real soon. If you need any help growing okra or cooking it feel free to ask me questions right here.

Please post your comments about Okra now. And thanks for reading my Hub Page about Okra.

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    • profile image


      8 months ago

      How long after planting does it take okra to sprout out of the ground?

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      6 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Okra does not do well in cooler weather as it is a heat loving plant. Better to start over when it warms up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I live in San Diego California. It's getting colder here as we move into January. My okra plant was very successful. It's bare now. It's my first time with an okra plant. Do I leave it or should I pull it out? I'm don't know if okra continues to grow on the plant come summer. Thanks!


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