Okra is not very difficult to grow in the home vegetable garden. Okra needs warm temperatures, full sun, and can tolerate dry conditions. Many okra varieties can get very tall – sometimes reaching seven feet or more in height. The preferred method of planting okra is by sowing the seeds directly in the vegetable garden. Okra seeds can be started indoors in seed trays four to six weeks before the last frost date of your area.
If you start okra seeds in a seed tray, there are a few things you should know while transplanting them in the vegetable garden. Here is how I transplant okra seedling into the vegetable garden.
Removing The Okra Seedlings From The Seed Tray
As I have shown in the articles for transplanting cucumbers, I prefer to start seeds in a peat pot-based tray. The peat pot tray is easy to work with and makes it very easy to remove the seedlings. Sometimes it can be difficult to remove the seedlings in the plastic trays without damaging the seedling.
To remove the okra seedlings, I simply use a sharp knife and cut each seed cell down both sides to form a small pot.
Once the seed tray cell has been cut on both sides, the cell can easily be removed. You now have the okra seedling in a neat little peat pot.
Preparing The Okra Seedling For Transplanting Into The Vegetable Garden
Once all the okra seedlings have been removed from the seed tray, I like to lay the seedlings out where they will be planted. I take my hand or a garden trowel and dig small holes about 18 inches apart in the rows. I then take an okra seedling and place one in each hole to represent where they’ll be planted.
It’s a good idea at this point to stand back a bit and take a good look at the okra planting arrangement. Okra should be planted about 18 to 24 inches apart in rows (if you are using rows) that are about two to three feet apart. If you are planting okra in a raised bed, the okra plants should be about 12 to 18 inches apart, and the raised bed needs to be at least 12 inches deep. Okra grows a long taproot that needs sufficient depth in order to grow.
Once you have the okra seedlings arranged how you like it is time to transplant them.
Transplanting The Okra Seedlings
The first thing I want to do with the okra seedling is to remove the very top of the peat pot. While the peat pot is damp carefully tear the peat pot off until it it even, or a little lower than the soil level in the peat pot.
You can do one of two things at this point in the transplanting – you can plant the okra seedling with the entire peat pot, you can remove the very bottom of the peat pot, or you can remove the entire peat pot altogether.
The okra seedling can be transplanted with the entire peat pot (except the top portion you removed earlier) because the peat pot is entirely biodegradable. It will eventually decompose if left in the hole. This is sometimes the best method for transplanting okra seedlings to avoid disturbing the roots.
If you decide to remove the bottom of the peat pots or the entire pot be extra careful to avoid disturbing or tearing the roots. You might see a larger root near the center of the pot – do not tear that root. This could hamper the okra growth or even kill the okra plant.
I decided to transplant the okra seedling with the peat pot intact.
Place the okra seedling in the hole you previously dug. Check to make sure the okra seedling is not sitting too deep or too high in the hole. The soil level of the peat pot should be level with the soil level of the row (or raised bed).
Once the okra seedling is at the proper depth cover with soil or compost. Repeat this same process until all the okra seedlings are transplanted into the vegetable garden. After this is completed be sure to give all the seedlings a thorough drink of water or compost tea.
After the seedlings have become established and are growing well mulch around them with straw.
How do you plant okra in your vegetable garden? Please share your techniques with us!