The okra, also known as okra, is a plant native to Africa, it is related to the hibiscus and has the scientific name Abelmoschus esculentus. The consumption of its fruit has spread worldwide due to its great nutritional content .
The okra fruit is a warm-season fruit, which is why it is grown primarily in tropical climates. It is a very versatile product that can be consumed in many ways: raw, fried, pickled, as an accompaniment to meats and in stews (one of the most famous is gumbo).
Characteristics of okra
Okra plants can grow up to 2.5 meters high , they are annual herbaceous species that have large yellow flowers. The leaves are heart-shaped and made up of lobes (usually 3-5).
The fruit or pod is a beautiful green color with hairs on the outside. Its appearance is that of a fusiform capsule with 10 internal angles, which can measure from 10 to 25 cm long (except in dwarf varieties). Inside it has numerous edible seeds .
Okra is easy to grow, preferring well-drained sandy soils with a high organic matter content, but can be grown in a wide variety of soils. It can tolerate a pH range of 5.8 to 6.8 and does best when planted in an area of full sun.
This plant can be established by sowing seeds directly in the garden . To improve germination, it is recommended to soak the seeds in water for several hours or overnight before sowing.
Okra seedlings have fragile taproots that you must be careful not to damage. Water your seedlings abundantly an hour before planting. Separate the seedlings and place them about 10 inches apart.
Once the okra is planted it is important to water during prolonged periods of drought, a deep soak once every 7 days with 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters of water should be sufficient. Moisture is essential during flowering and pod development.
Plagues and diseases
The insects found in okra vary from year to year, but the most common that can be found are beetles and grubs (primarily corn worms). Inspect plants frequently and treat with an approved product if necessary.
The most serious pests that affect this plant include the root knot nematode and blight. A combination of crop rotation and good soil management is important for its control. Ants often climb plants to steal sips of nectar, but rarely cause serious damage, except fire ants.
Stressed plants can suffer from verticillium and fusarium wilt , which are soil-borne diseases that cause them to wilt and die. Once the disease attacks the plant it is impossible to eradicate, prevention is the best option to avoid these diseases. You can use anaerobic disinfestation or soil fumigation.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.