Okra, gumbo or ladies’ fingers is a flowering plant that belongs to the mallow family. This plant is native to Africa and Asia but is now cultivated in various tropical and temperate regions around the world. It is valued for its green seedpods that are low in calories while still very rich in Vitamin A. Growing okra in a greenhouse is very easy provided you follow these guidelines.
- Start okra seeds directly in the patch you have prepared in your greenhouse about three to four weeks ahead of the last frost date for your region. The soil should be well-drained and fertile with temperatures ranging from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The recommended spacing should be two feet apart with rows that are three to four feet apart. Such spacing allows individual plants enough space to grow.
- Thin the plants when they attain heights of three inches so they are spaced 10 inches apart.
- Water them adequately especially during the warm summer months. Ideally, an inch of water every week is sufficient though greenhouse kits assembled in hot and arid regions may require more water.
- Apply general-purpose fertilizer three to four weeks after the seeds sprout. Alternatively, you can use aged manure or rich compost.
Tips and tricks
- You can increase pod production by removing the lower leaves soon after the first harvest.
- Weed when the plants are young and apply between 4 and 8 inches of mulch to suppress reemergence of weeds.
- Okra is susceptible to attacks by brown stinkbugs, corn earworms, and aphids. Fusarium wilt can also lead to substantial loss of crop.
Okra requires adequate water especially during the warm months of summer. Apply about an inch of water weekly.
Ideal soil should be fertile and well drained with near neutral pH. The soil pH should range between 6.5 and 7.0 though the plant can tolerate soils with pH of 7.6.
Okra thrives in full sunshine or partial shade so they are ideal for growing in greenhouse kits.
Okra matures about two months after planting. Harvest the pods when they are about 3 inches long by cutting their stems just above the cap.