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Okra spacing question

 
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This will be the first year I grow Okra.  I love the test of freshly picked young okra!  So delicious!  

I am dedicating an entire 4' x 4' raised bed for okra.  Should I put 1 plant per square foot in the raised bed , so 16 plants?  Or should I try a 5 x 5 spacing for 25 plants in 4' x 4' bed?   Which would produce more pods for me?

Thanks
 
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Where I live, okra is one of the hardiest crops. One year, I recall my parents had some sprout at the edge of their porch where they throw food scraps out. From just what sprouted, with no care, they produced more okra than they could eat! If your area is similar, you might use the raised bed for something else if there's something you want to grow that might benefit from it more than the okra. Otherwise, your 16 plants should put out plenty. Or course, you could always thin 25 if needed. With 16, you might also plant something short along with it. Okra tends to be tall and scraggly.
 
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Okra is great for making a cool "understory" below. I had cayenne peppers and now have Chinese greens and escarole under mine (season transition here into winter. when it's really cold, I'll cut off any leaves that didn't drop and the branch tips, and plant peas to climb up them).
If you have strong enough sun, you can plant them pretty close and they do okay. I often plant them in lines in the garden between other stuff and the do well too.
 
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Okra is tall, unless you search out a specifically short variety.  I'm a tall person and last year my okra growing in the ground had some blossoms/fruits higher than I could reach.  I grow most things in raised beds but my okra doesn't seem to need it, and it would be inconveniently out of reach, so I grow it in the ground.
 
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I've had similar experiences- short okra's 4' tall, and it doesn't need great soil to grow.  Typically a half dozen plants will provide plenty of young pods if I'm picking every other day.  Sixteen plants ought to be plenty.  
 
Jennifer Lowery
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Should I just dig a 1 foot diameter hole in the grassy lawn?  Mix some Black Kow and Peat Moss with the Clay and grow at ground level?  I can keep the lawn edge trimmed with a trowel.  I can throw the sod in the bottom of the next hugelkultur bed we are making in about a week.
 
Dan Boone
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What I did last year was spade a trench, about two shovels wide and about eight feet long, setting aside the sod and loosening the not-very-good native soil.  Then I did a narrow sheet mulch (a foot or two wide) down each side of the trench, using small broken-down Amazon boxes and some thick cardboard "boards" that came as packaging in an appliance crate. On top of the boards I put some half-decomposed local/organic horse manure from my neighbor's horse.  Then I seeded the trench thickly with okra seed, and covered the seed with about two inches of decomposed wood chips.  I topped up the sheet mulches with the removed sod (upside down) and about six inches of fresher wood chip mulch.  When the okra seedlings came up, I thinned them to about two inches apart, saving the most vigorous.  Once the best ones were about six to ten inches high, I thinned them again, shooting for about eight inches between plants but fudging that a little bit if two really vigorous plants were closer than that.  About that time I also mulched the row and around the seedlings with another couple inches of wood chips.   They grew spectacularly (this is good okra country) and I got a thick hedge of productive okra plants.
 
Jennifer Lowery
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Dan Boone wrote:What I did last year was spade a trench, about two shovels wide and about eight feet long, setting aside the sod and loosening the not-very-good native soil.  Then I did a narrow sheet mulch (a foot or two wide) down each side of the trench, using small broken-down Amazon boxes and some thick cardboard "boards" that came as packaging in an appliance crate. On top of the boards I put some half-decomposed local/organic horse manure from my neighbor's horse.  Then I seeded the trench thickly with okra seed, and covered the seed with about two inches of decomposed wood chips.  I topped up the sheet mulches with the removed sod (upside down) and about six inches of fresher wood chip mulch.  When the okra seedlings came up, I thinned them to about two inches apart, saving the most vigorous.  Once the best ones were about six to ten inches high, I thinned them again, shooting for about eight inches between plants but fudging that a little bit if two really vigorous plants were closer than that.  About that time I also mulched the row and around the seedlings with another couple inches of wood chips.   They grew spectacularly (this is good okra country) and I got a thick hedge of productive okra plants.



Wow I am no where near that level.  I would of never thought to use half decomposed manure and wood chips as growing medium.  Always was told to use well composted manure and never to put wood chips in the soil.  I don't have access to wood chips or manure.  I just have Black Kow, a little compost in my bin, clay soil in my yard and sod.  I do have some cardboard boxes.   I have 10 4'x4' raised beds (wood construction).. I was thinking about this winter doing some no dig raised beds Charles Dowding style, in front of the ones made of wood.  
 
Dan Boone
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Jennifer Lowery wrote:I would of never thought to use half decomposed manure and wood chips as growing medium.  Always was told to use well composted manure and never to put wood chips in the soil.

 

Well, I'd make a distinction between "in the soil" (where the decomp of the wood chips consumes existing soil nitrogen) and "on the soil" where the chips decompose much more slowly and serve as a mulch while they get worked on by fungus, insects, et cetera.  Also, in a sheet mulching situation with a thick layer of cardboard underneath, my theory was that the "too hot" manure would compost with the chips, and nutrients wouldn't reach my plants until composting was complete and rain soaked the result.  It was a big experiment but it worked.  I think you could use any mulch around the plants and sheet mulches (which in this context are primarily for weed suppression) are famously made with whatever you have.
 
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I’ve had great success with doing two plants per square foot at a diagonal. Two seasons now with Clemson Spineless. Six square feet produced more okra than my family could eat, pickle or give away!
 
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