How To Pick Okra

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I don’t know about you, but okra is one of my favorite vegetables. Mix some stewed tomatoes in the pan with some okra and corn, and I’m in heaven. I think I could eat that stuff every day!

If you love okra as much as I do then you probably have a few stalks of it in the garden. Okra is very easy to grow and even easier to harvest. Really, the only thing that okra requires is good soil and hot temperatures – the hotter the better.

As you will see in the pictures, my okra plants are still quite short. That’s OK though because they produce early and often. Also, remember that okra grows very quickly, so if you see a small okra pod one day make sure to keep an eye on it – the pod will be ready to pick after the next day or two.

When To Pick Okra

You have some okra growing, but are not sure when is the right time to pick. Okra pods should be picked once the pod reaches a length of 3 – 5 inches long. You do not want okra to get any bigger than that. If the pods get too big they become tough, and not very good to eat. The idea is you want to pick okra when they are young and tender. The picture below is a good size to pick okra; it is about a 4 inch long pod.

Choose an Okra Pod That Is Ready To Pick

How To Pick Okra

As I mentioned earlier, okra is very easy to pick. All you need is a sharp pair of shears. Take one hand and gently push the leaves over to gain better access to the okra pod; they will be underneath the big leaves of the plant – at least until the plant gets taller. Be careful not to damage the leaves or accidentally knock any unripened pods or blooms off the plant.

Once you have located the pod that is ready to pick, snip the pod from the plant using the shears. You want to cut the okra about a 1/4-inch below the base of the pod. Generally, I cut the okra pod from the plant and let it drop on the ground since my hands are full. Once the plants get taller (okra plants can get 5 – 7 feet tall) you don’t have to use one hand to hold the leaves back, and you can catch the okra as you cut. It is not advisable to let the okra pods fall to the ground from the higher heights. This could bruise and damage the pods.

Snip the Okra Pod Off About a Quarter Inch Below the Base

Once you have cut the pod from the plant, you can leave the short stem on the plant.

The Okra Plant After the Okra Pod Has Been Picked

Remember,you want to cut the pods from the okra plant to avoid damaging the plant and the okra pod. Trying to snap or break the pods can sometimes damage the plant and the pods that you are after. Continue cutting each pod that has reached the appropriate size.

If you pick okra early and often the plant will continue to produce high yields of okra all season long. Give the pods a good rinse and they are ready to be added to your favorite stews or other dishes.

Harvested Okra

For more information on growing okra, please check out the Growing Okra page.

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Comments

  1. Hello,

    I have a garden blog, too. (http://gardeningformyfamily.blogspot.com) I also live in VA. I have planted okra in my garden, and I am posting on it today. I will link to your site, if that is okay. My family loves okra, so we are excited about hopefully getting some.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Anna – fellow Virginian ;) ,

      Thank you for visiting Veggie Gardener! I visited your blog, and I must say that I am very impressed by it and your garden! I am glad that you are growing okra, it is a very unique, interesting and delicious vegetable to grow. Hang in there – you will begin getting some pods very soon. The weather is really starting to heat up now, so it will not take long.

      I appreciate the links! You may link to the site any time you want. I will add your blog to my “Favorite Sites” section if that is okay. I hope that you stay in touch to let me know how your garden is progressing!

      Keep up the great work :)

      Take Care,

      Tee Riddle

      • Hello,

        Yes, it is okay for you to link to me. I will add you to my links too. I would love to hear any advice you have on my garden. I love to learn!

        Thank you!

        • Hi Anna,

          Thank you for adding me to your links! After touring your blog some I think I need to be asking you for advice. Everything looks amazing! I am very impressed by your carrots. I have never had much luck growing them, except for the Little Romeo type (which look like little carrot balls).

          When those okra pods start coming (and they will), remember to pick them when they reach 3 to 4 inches long. Don’t let them get too big because they get tough and inedible (they don’t get poisonous or anything – just taste bad). You will need to check them once a day, because the pods grow fast. A small 1 inch pod today will probably be 3 inches long tomorrow. As the old saying goes – “Pick them early and pick them often”.

          I’ll be sure to keep tabs on your blog, and let me know how things are progressing in your garden. If you ever have a question or need anything, feel free to use the Contact page to email me.

          Thanks,

          Tee

  2. Wow, this is extremely helpful. I promised my mom I would create a fresh vegetable garden for her and my dad to enjoy, and had been worried about my plants (which are still pretty young), but you site has been helpful and reassuring that I am doing (most) things right. Thanks for the info on the okra! I wasn’t really sure what to expect :)

  3. I came on this site right on time. I wasn’t sure how big they were supposed to grow, but I have a bunch that are ready! I’m in Florida, so they get plenty of heat!

  4. Shana Rhea says:

    I don’t know what kind of okra I got, but it is purple. It is green for about the 1st 2 inches then all the sudden the whole thing starts turning purple and gets very hard. what should I do?

    • Hi Shana – There are some varieties that have some reddish-purplish coloring to them – like Hill Country Red and Burgundy okra. Perhaps you can harvest them before they start getting hard. Okra will typically get very tough once it becomes over ripe.

  5. This is my first year growing okra and I’m sure I’ll have a better idea next year, but about how many plants do you need for a good, continuous harvest for 4-5 people? Thx

    • Hi John – I have 18 okra plants in a ~100 sq ft area and that supplies me with a nice harvest every other day. That’s enough for 4-5 people to eat okra at least twice a week.

  6. I’m a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, and I am so glad I found this site. I have a few okra plants in my garden (they do very well in the warm weather down here), but I had no idea when to harvest them. Thanks for the clear and concise advice!

  7. Doret Williams says:

    Hi, I just started my garden and its coming on nicely. My okra trees are blooming and I already started picking and enjoying them. Thanks for the information and God bless.

  8. Shoot! I waited too long for my first set, but have others coming on.

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