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Okra

HOW TO GROW OKRA:

Depending on what part of the country you live, planting of okra can be challenging. Okra likes very warm soil and likes a lot of room to grow. If you live where the soil is warm (or you can make it warm fast, see Sweet Corn Secret below), and you can give it the space it requires, then okra is more than worth planting!

SOIL PREPARATION:

One of biggest keys to success in organic gardening is the condition of the soil. There needs to be adequate organic matter to hold moisture and nutrients. And at the same time, the soil needs to be loose enough for good aeration and drainage, which will help promote strong root development.

It is easier to grow okra if your soil has the proper nutrients. People always assume their soil is average, but unless you have a soil test it is just a guess. More often than not, it is necessary to amend the soil to achieve optimum pH balances, as well as the proper levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Testing your soil is ideal; however, at a bare minimum, before planting anything, work in at least 2-4” of organic mulch and at least one-half inch of finished compost into your topsoil. If you suspect your soil is less than ideal, mix in a cup of Mega-Veggie if you feel your soil is in great condition, 2 cups if in good condition and 3 cups if in poor condition, into every 100 sq. ft. of soil. This 100% organic soil amendment will make up for a lot of deficiencies.

Also, when plants get a good size, mulching with compost or straw will help keep the soil moist and also help to feed the plant and prevent weeds. Don't mulch over 3-4" because this might prevent oxygen from entering the soil and could cause root rot.

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS:

Planting from seed: Wait two weeks after the last expected frost before you plant to let the soil warm. Plant 3 seeds per hole about 1" deep in rich soil, then water with seaweed solution. This will help germination and promote root growth. Space 18" apart in rows, with 18” between rows, and later thin to one plant per hole if necessary. You can plant starts but we think direct planting is better.  Harvest every two or 3 days when okra are 4" long.

If planting seedlings: If you choose to plant seedlings, start indoors two weeks before the last anticipated hard frost. Harden them off first if you are buying or growing starts. This is done by placing the seedlings in direct sun for an hour, then placing in the shade. Each following day increase the time in the sun by one hour; repeat this each day until they are in the sun for 6 to 8 hours, which will take a week or so. Make sure they don’t dry out.

If you know there is a chance of hard freeze, bring seedlings inside until freeze is over. When it is safe, leave seedlings outside, placing them next to a building with an overhang and let them get used to nighttime temperatures. The building and overhead cover should give you some protection. After one night outside and they are used to sun, you can plant without shocking the plant. Plant in soil when outside temperatures may go to 32 degrees but mostly stay above freezing.

When planting, use a tablespoon of MegaStart or bone meal in the bottom of each planting hole. If you’re Vegan or don’t like to use bone meal, MegaStart will work perfectly. It’s 100% organic and animal-free. It is best to root feed with MegaSea seaweed right after planting to prevent shock. Seaweed is better for shock prevention than any other product on the market.

FERTILIZING/AMENDING:

After planting, continue to feed seaweed once a week by spraying leaves. The seaweed will really help the sweet varieties be extra-sweet. Also, apply MegaFish hydrolyzed fish every two weeks through root feeding until harvest. I use a hose sprayer for fish, but just make sure you spray enough so that the roots of the plants are soaked. If fish gets on the leaves, don’t worry, it won’t burn the leaves.

If your plants are not vigorous, they are not getting enough food and your soil is in poor condition. If so, continue to side dress with 2 tablespoons of MegaVeggie around the base of the plants and water in. Continue the seaweed once a week along with fish every two weeks. Do not let the soil dry out; soil should be moist but not soggy.

Recommended Schedule for Fertilizing and Amending Soil:

1. MegaSea seaweed -- at planting and once a week until harvest
2. MegaFish hydrolyzed fish -- every two weeks after planting until harvest
3. MegaVeggie – at planting and if plant does not appear vigorous, every two weeks until harvest

SWEET CORN SECRET:

Here at 6400 feet it is hard too grow okra unless you do this. Take a raised bed and cover with black plastic the day of your last frost date. Wait two weeks to let the soil warm. Make sure you put a soaker hose in before you cover. Then cut slits every 18" on center and plant seed. You will be amazed at how well this works.  One other tip: pick when they are small and tender. They are the most tender when they are small, and the plant will keep producing if you keep picking!

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