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.
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.
Once you have cut the pod from the plant, you can leave the short stem on the plant.
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.
For more information on growing okra, please check out the Growing Okra page.