Okra, commonly known lady’s finger or Bhindi in India, is a seasonal plant which belongs to the melon family and has beautiful flowers. The vegetable can be cooked and consumed in different ways. It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A along with calcium and fiber. It is low in calories containing about 25 to 40 kcal per 100 grams and is mainly made up of water (90%), protein (2%) and carbohydrates (7%). You may have been buying this healthy and versatile green from your nearest grocery store but it can be easily grown at home.
The seeds of okra should be soaked in water for at least 12-18 hours allowing them to absorb the moisture before being sowed. Okra can grow in different types of soil but it must be fertilized well. The seeds should be sowed an inch deep in the soil and in rows that should be at a distance if 3 feet from each other. One should be careful with the distribution of the seeds so that they have enough space for their roots else they may not grow properly. After around 12 days, the seed will begin to germinate. The plants should be narrowed by tying them loosely to branches, 12 to 18 inches apart from each other, so that they grow straight upwards. Okra flourishes under a bright sun and requires proper sunlight at this stage. It also needs regular watering specially during the flowering stage. Okra is know to attract beetles and worms that can damage the plant. Therefore, measures l should be undertaken to prevent diseases
The plant grows best in soil with a PH level between 6.5-7. If you would prefer
not to change your soil’s Ph level, then simply add compost material to your
soil to make it nutrition-rich. Okra grows well in soil that is packed with nutrients.
Keep your Okra plant hydrated. Water your plant every morning to allow it to retain water throughout the day. Space out the seedlings by thinning them when they’re about 3 inches tall. Thin out the smaller seedlings and leave the stronger ones intact. Keep your plant away from unwanted pests and weeds. If you spot any unwanted plants, remove them. To keep bugs at bay, use a homemade pesticide and keep your plant in a good shape.
Your first produce will be ready within 45 to 50 days of planting. Within two months, the okra plant will mature and it takes up to 12 weeks for production. You should start harvesting okra after the bloom fades but don’t take so long that it turns black and dies. You will know it is time to harvest when the seed pods are 2-3 inches long. Handle okra with care because it is a delicate plant and bruises easily. Pick the pods every second day, so that they don’t get too tough and are still soft. It is advised to wear gloves while picking the pods because they have spines irrespective of whichever variety of okra you have grown. Use a scissor or simply pluck them just above their caps. Once you make a cut, another pod will start to grow from the same spot. Keep harvesting Okra until the plant stops producing the crop.
It is suggested to wash the pods gently and let them dry for at least half an hour before you store them. The storage of okra is easy since it can be placed in a paper or zip lock bag in the refrigerator. Ideally, you should eat them within 3 to 4 days of harvesting to enjoy the freshness.