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Growing Okra

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Post by Compostwoman on 25th February 2011, 8:32 pm

One of the new seeds I am trying this year is Okra.

So far I have 6/6 seeds germinatined in the hot, heated propagtor ( 21 C) and still have 5 of the plants a week later.

I understand the plants are very sensitive to changes in temperature, so although I take the lid off the propagator in the day time , to allow more light in, I am still covering them up again at night as they are in an unheated greenhouse.

Anyone else grown Okra , in the UK or similar climate zone?

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Post by Mike on 26th February 2011, 1:46 pm

I'm not at all sure why you would want to be starting okra this early. It's not as if this crop needs a long growing season. So if we want to grow okra up here (it's a regional taste, rarely eaten up here) we would start plants to be ready for setting out the very end of May -- and expect to be harvesting okra before the end of July.

Tends to a high mortality in seedlings and doesn't like root disturbance (same as melons, cucumbers, etc.) so usually done by planting a few seeds per 2x2 cell and then later thinning to one plant per cell by snipping out the excess.

When would you be setting melons, peppers, etc. outdoors in your area? I wouldn't start okra any earlier than 5 weeks before that date.

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 26th February 2011, 1:59 pm

I used to grow Okra when I lived on the Mediterranean. Keeping adequate humidity was the problem there.

Here I would say you should be okay unless there is another frost. Balmy though it is at the moment, that may yet happen, but that is gardening in Britain, isn't it? If there is no more frost you will be quids in and laughing; if there is we will all be ****ed with a lot of our seedlings.

Kep 'em thinned, don't water too often but keep good humidity would be my advice.

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Post by Compostwoman on 26th February 2011, 2:02 pm

Mike wrote:I'm not at all sure why you would want to be starting okra this early. It's not as if this crop needs a long growing season. So if we want to grow okra up here (it's a regional taste, rarely eaten up here) we would start plants to be ready for setting out the very end of May -- and expect to be harvesting okra before the end of July.

Tends to a high mortality in seedlings and doesn't like root disturbance (same as melons, cucumbers, etc.) so usually done by planting a few seeds per 2x2 cell and then later thinning to one plant per cell by snipping out the excess.

When would you be setting melons, peppers, etc. outdoors in your area? I wouldn't start okra any earlier than 5 weeks before that date.

I grow them in a polytunnel Mike. Like all my peppers, tomatos etc. Which is why I posted this in the Greenhouse thread Very Happy

Billy, I gues that if I can getthen to be reasonable sized plants, they can be treated like peppers and tomatoes? So into the cold frame in the PT until the froast have passed, then in the PT to to grow and crop....

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 26th February 2011, 2:08 pm

Sounds reasonable. never tried them here, but very interested to hear how you get on as would love to grow them again. Garden fresh they taste quite unlike the imported supermarket ones. In the same way asparagus or beans or peas taste so different just picked.

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Post by Compostwoman on 26th February 2011, 4:03 pm

God my spelling deteriorated this morning..... Very Happy

Yep Billy, will keep you posted...plan is to sow more in a few weeks time and try some outside , if we have a good summer...and more in the PT.

I have great sucess with peppers in there every year, and toms of course, and cucumbers but have given up on aubergines as they are a waste of space ( literally! for the yield...) so decided to grow something else instead...

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Post by Mike on 27th February 2011, 1:59 pm

I understood you were starting them "in the greenhouse" as that's what you do with peppers, tomatoes, etc. (but especially with something like okra which wants rather high temps for germination and seedling growth). I didn't realize that you kept them "under cover" the rest of their cycle and was just commenting that at ~50 days from transplant out to harvest very different than say 80 days for ripe peppers (well ripe enough to finish ripening after picking).

When stores sell plants for the garden they are grown to what the customers want even if the latter don't know what's best. By setting out "too old for transplant" (flowering already) peppers and tomatoes you do get some harvest early but the total yield suffers. For example, ideally peppers are just 4-6 leaf seedlings at transplant time for best recovery from transplant shock. So you shouldn't start peppers more than 8 weeks before set out date or tomatoes 6 weeks. Okra is 4-5 weeks because like the melons, cukes, and squashes, they are both fast growing babies and really don't like their roots disturbed.

Of course for us here the possibilities for "polytunnel", "hot caps", etc. are more limited. Their main use is to protect from late frosts the end of April and through May. They could provide frost protection earlier than that but too much at risk from late snows.

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Post by Compostwoman on 27th February 2011, 10:27 pm

I will be transplanting these into their final pots when they have outgrown their planting pots. They will then go into the PT, inisially insode a cold frame, but then into the PT once the risk of frost has passed.

Our climate here is too hit and miss for me to risk them outside so I am treating them like peppers.

Also doing Luffas the same way.

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