Okra tends to get large and loves summer heat. Pick an area that gets full sun and has lots of grow room. Okra can be grown in pots, but it will produce more if planted in the ground. Okra plants can grow a larger taproot, so if you do plan on planting in a container, a deeper container for the final plant is best.
Start okra indoors 3-6 weeks before your last frost date, or outdoors when the soil is above 50oF. Okra cannot survive a frost. Before planting, soak your seeds overnight in tepid water. Plant seeds 1/2” deep and 12-18” apart. In fertile soil, okra plants can get over 8’ tall by the end of its life.
Okra needs 1” of water/week, and may need supplemental watering during dry summer heat. Fertilize with phosphorous during the growing season for better fruit production. Add mulch to reduce weeds. Okra is a part of the hibiscus family, so enjoy the beautiful flowers! Those flowers will turn into the okra pods. For the best tasting okra, harvest when your pods are small, usually 3-6” long. Small pods can be eaten raw or cooked. Once the pods become longer and harder, and have a rigid tip, cooking is the only way to eat them, but they will eventually be too woody to eat. If your okra are hard, leave them for seed pods.
To harvest a seed pod, wait for the pod to start to dry. If it dries too much, the sides will split and you’ll have a whole new crop of volunteer okra plants. However, if you leave too many pods on the okra plant, it will end its production. Okra can mature quickly, sometimes requiring 2 harvests a day.
Always wear gloves and long sleeves when handling okra plants. All varieties have spines (even the spineless ones) and the spines can cause irritation. When harvesting, try cutting the pod cap below any spines so that you can wash and handle your harvest more easily.
As okra grows, the flower and pods will go up the central stalk. Remove foliage below your producing fruit to make it easier to harvest. Eventually okra can be tree like. It is recommended to remove the plant once fruit is out of reach or the plant can be very difficult to remove later.
To store your excess okra, put your uncut and uncooked pods into ziplock bags to freeze, or you can pickle/can them.
How to make okra pickles fresh from your garden
How to grow Cosmos from seed
1-4 wide mouth pint jars with lids
1.5 lbs fresh okra 3-4” long
4 cloves garlic - peeled and smashed 1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1.5 tbsp pickling or kosher salt
Pickling spices to try - mustard seeds, dill seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, celery seeds, black peppercorns, etc
Make sure that your okra are small enough to fit in your desired jar. Wash okra and trim the stem to 1/4”. Make sure that your jar is very clean and add spice seeds, garlic, or any other spices to flavor your pickles - experiment to find what you like best!
To make your pickling liquid, mix equal parts cider vinegar and water mixed with salt and sugar - also try substituting other vinegar types for varying flavors - bring to a boil to dissolve sugar and salt
Put spices in the bottom of the jar, then your okra, then your brine - you can eat the pickles right away, but if you let them sit and soak for awhile, they will taste even better If you want to keep your pickles for more than a few weeks, you’ll need to process them in a hot water bath to seal them - we recommend a weight or leaving 1/2” of space below the jar top to cover the okra fully with brine (to prevent botulism) - however, processing will cook the okra and make them softer (less crunchy) - if you put the pickles into the fridge, they will be much crunchier and keep for a few weeks.
See full recipe: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pickled_okra/