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Growing Okra Naturally

 
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I wanted to make this thread to help me keep track of and document okra.

Hopefully it can be helpful to others also!

If you'd like to stay up to date with the latest videos, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel HERE by clicking the red subscribe button and click the bell to get email notifications for each new video! I'd love to have you join me for this journey!
 
Steve Thorn
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The okra have really been thriving in the food forest over the last month.
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pollinator
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Steve Thorn wrote:The okra have really been thriving in the food forest over the last month.



Okra (Clemson Spineless to be exact) is about the only thing doing well in my garden this year, what with all the rain we've had. I just tucked it in here and there wherever there was an open spot, and it all came up and really puts out. Looks pretty, too.

I've gotten into a routine where I pick okra in the morning, then immediately cut it up and throw it in the dehydrator. It doesn't take long to dehydrate it, and then it's added to a mason jar with a dessicant packet or two, ready to just throw into soups. What I've discovered, though, is that it's kind of tasty as a snack just out of the jar. No salt or anything.

 
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I did a sort of lasagna garden strip for okra this year that was very successful.  

I spaded a strip about six feet long and two shovels wide, leaving a bit of a trench.  I put slightly dried but far from composted stallion poop in the trench and backfilled slightly, leaving the soil more or less level.  I had two thick cardboard "boards" that came as corner reinforcers in an appliance crate/box, so I laid them side by side with a six inch strip of exposed soil between them.  I sowed okra seed (my developing personal land race saved over several years) thickly in that soil.  Then I covered the boards heavily with decomposed wood chips and scattered the same lightly over my seed bed.  When the okra came up I thinned the seedlings in several rounds until there were 6"-8" between them, selecting always for the most vigorous starters.  It's been a very successful okra bed!

My thing this year is to pick the pods very small, which reduces the total yield a lot (I'm picking 1" pods that would grow to six inches or more before getting too tough) but gives me a superpremium product.  I really like tiny okras eaten raw or roasted, far more than I like the more mature product.  
 
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We've got some nice okra trees this year.  Probably around 6 ft tall and over an inch in diameter.  They'll probably finish up over 8 ft.  We like to cut them little finger size, freeze, then toss into soups and stews over the winter.  We don't blanch, and they won't keep more than a few months loose in bags, but they are great while they last.  Cooking them whole keeps the slime inside.  No pests or diseases ever seem to bother the okra, and they love our summer heat!
 
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My okra had been disappointing this year. It's funny because last year I did 2 rows (around 15 plants) and had way more than I knew what to do with. So this year I only planted 6 plants and the grasshoppers, sharpshooters, and stink bugs have kept them almost totally defoliated all summer, which reduced blooming and pod development. But, after the mild winter and early spring/summer, the bugs have been really hard on almost everything, so I'll just try again next spring.
 
Dan Boone
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Kc Simmons wrote:So this year I only planted 6 plants and the grasshoppers, sharpshooters, and stink bugs have kept them almost totally defoliated all summer, which reduced blooming and pod development.



This year for the first time I’ve had these extra-large colorful hopper boys in my garden. Not in swarms, but enough to be concerning. The okra has not seemed to mind their hunger tough. Luckily they don’t perceive garden scissors as a threat, oops.
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Hoppers
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Mine have done well again this year. Never had an insect problem with okra. They are in rather poor soil along with black eyed peas. I guess it could be called a Clemson Spineless & TX Hill Country Red landrace. Both grew together for the past 5 years but haven't really noticed any cross pollination. They still seem distinct. We didn't get any rain for a month or more & they were too hard & stringy to eat then. I grow it mostly for making gumbo but we also freeze some & eat it breaded with corn meal then fried. It's still going strong but will probably slow down soon.
 
Kc Simmons
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Mike Barkley wrote:Mine have done well again this year. Never had an insect problem with okra. They are in rather poor soil along with black eyed peas. I guess it could be called a Clemson Spineless & TX Hill Country Red landrace. Both grew together for the past 5 years but haven't really noticed any cross pollination. They still seem distinct. We didn't get any rain for a month or more & they were too hard & stringy to eat then. I grow it mostly for making gumbo but we also freeze some & eat it breaded with corn meal then fried. It's still going strong but will probably slow down soon.



I hope to start a little landrace with the okra, but that polar vortex last Sept messed up my seed saving so I did a few, each, of clemson, burgundy, and go big. We didn't get any rain in CenTex for most of June and July (one or two days of light showers), so my pods were a bit stringy, also. The burgundy and go big are blooming again after the cool front, last week, and clemson has some new leaves, so hopefully I can get a few pods from each to save seeds for next year.

ETA a photo of my sad okra. Most of the tops have been stripped but the rain/cool front has caused some new growth from the base.
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Sad okra
Sad okra
 
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