Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Propagation of Okra

Okra's large, yellow flowers make it a lovely addition to both the vegetable and the flower garden.

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Okra, or gumbo, is a staple of southern American cooking, especially in the Cajun regions of Louisiana where it is the primary ingredient in the stew that bears its name. The plant, scientifically known as Hibiscus esculenta or Abelmoschus esculentus Moench, is easy to grow and produces abundant fruit throughout the growing season. It is also grown as an ornamental, as its large, pale yellow flowers resemble the hibiscus and hollyhock to which it is related.

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Okra is an adaptable plant that will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. For best yield of both flowers and fruits, plant okra in well-drained, sandy soil amended with plenty of organic matter. Okra prefers acidic soil, in a range of pH 5.8 to 6.8. Okra requires full sunlight and plenty of water, especially during the flowering and fruiting stages.

Planting

Start seeds indoors or plant directly in prepared soil after soaking overnight. Okra cannot tolerate cold, so do not plant it outdoors until soil temperatures are consistently above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are planting directly in the soil, plant seeds 1 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. When the plants are about 3 inches tall, thin them to at least 12 inches apart. If you are transplanting, plant seedlings 12 to 24 inches apart.

Harvest

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