Okra is a nutrient-packed vegetable used in many recipes. It also helps thicken stews, soups and gumbos. Originating in Africa more than a thousand years ago, this vegetable thrives in hot climates, is fast growing and ready for harvest in about 60 days. Home gardeners can grow okra in containers if they are short on space or only want a few plants.
Things You’ll Need
- Container (18 or more inches across and 1 foot or more deep)
- Potting soil
- Pruning shears
- Water-soluble fertilizer or a granular fertilizer
Choose the appropriate container that is at least 18 inches across and a foot deep. Your container needs holes in the bottom to ensure proper drainage. The pots used don’t have to be fancy. Possible examples include a big bucket, a homemade wooden planter or a whiskey barrel.
Fill your okra container with a homemade soil mixture of 2 1/2 gallons each of garden soil, compost or peat moss, perlite or vermiculite and 1/2 cup of fertilizer made in a formulation of 6-10-4 or 5-10-5. This mixture provides your okra plants with a well-drained, lightweight, oxygenated growing media. Regular garden soil will become compacted in the container, resulting in poor drainage.
Plant two to three okra seeds per square foot of your container’s interior by pushing each seed into the soil mixture 1 inch deep and covering them with dirt.
Water the okra at least 1 inch per week for ideal growth.
Put your container with the planted okra seeds in the sunniest location you can find. Okra thrives in daytime temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Start growing okra in the latter part of June if you live in the North for faster growth — you will see okra pods in two months.
Harvest your okra pods when they reach 2 to 4 inches long. Pods at this size will be the most tender to eat. If you wait too long, the okra pods will reach lengths of 12 inches or longer, resulting in tough, inedible pods. Cut the okra stem 1/4 inch above the pod using a sharp knife or a pair of garden shears. Place the pods you cut into a basket. Continue to harvest every two to three days. The more okra pods you cut, the faster okra pods will grow, taking only a couple of days to grow from a node to a complete pod. Okra pods will keep growing quickly until you stop harvesting or until the weather cools down.