The okra is a tropical plant native to Africa that little by little is gaining a foothold in our garden, and also in our patio because although it can reach 2 meters in height, its roots are not invasive so they can be in a pot throughout the season.
So now you know, if you want to try different flavors, learn more interesting things about okra .
- 1 Characteristics of okra
- 1.1 Varieties
- 2 How is it grown?
- 2.1 Sowing
- 2.2 Transplantation
- 2.2.1 Transplant to a larger pot
- 2.2.2 Planting in the garden
- 2.3 Subscriber
- 2.4 Collection
- 2.5 Pests and diseases
- 2.5.1 Pests
- 2.5.2 Diseases
- 2.6 Rusticity
- 3 uses
- 4 Medicinal properties of okra
Characteristics of okra
The okra, also known by the common names bamia, quimbombó, okra, gombo, abelmosco, molondrón or okra, and with the scientist Abelmoschus esculentus , is an annual plant that can behave as a perennial if the climate is mild and warm throughout the year. . It grows to a height of 2m, and can reach 3m in tropical areas. The central stem is robust, and produces branches with palmate leaves that are dark green on the upper side and light green on the underside.
The flowers are very beautiful, solitary, with a short petiole, yellowish-white in color and with a diameter of up to 4cm. Once they are pollinated, the fruit begins to ripen and will become a conical-shaped capsule 30cm long and up to 3.5cm in diameter. Inside you will find the seeds, which once mature measure 3mm in diameter and are dark gray in color.
A total of 4 varieties are distinguished, which are:
- Red velvet : red fruit.
- Blondy : with light green, ribbed fruits.
- Clemson spineless : plant without stinging hairs. The fruits are angular dark green.
- Lee : it has no thorns, and the fruits are yellowish green.
How is it grown?
If you dare to try the flavor of the fruit of this plant, follow our advice to obtain an excellent harvest:
The seeds must be purchased in spring , as soon as the risk of frost has passed. Once you have them at home, put them in a glass of water for 24 hours to be able to discard the ones that are not viable, which will be the ones that remain floating.
The next day, it will be time to sow them in the seedbed . As such, you can use pots, seedling trays, peat tablets, milk containers, yogurt cups,… in short, whatever you have on hand. Of course, make sure that it has (or that it can be made) holes for water drainage.
As soon as you have decided what to use as a seedbed, fill it with universal growing medium, and place the seeds so that they are about 2cm apart from each other . If you use peat tablets, sow only one seed in each so that they can germinate better. Expose your seedbed to direct sun, and keep the substrate moist by spraying it with water regularly.
The seedlings will grow very quickly, so that in just a month after sowing you will have to move them to larger pots or to the garden . Let’s see how to proceed in each case:
Transplant to a larger pot
- The first thing you have to do is remove the seedling from the alveolus or container.
- Now fill a 30cm diameter pot with universal growing medium mixed with 30% perlite to about half full.
- Then, place the seedling in the center, and finish filling the pot.
- Finally, water and put it in a place where there is a lot of light, but not direct until you see growth. When that happens, move it to a place where it gets direct sunlight.
Plant in the garden
- The first thing you have to do is prepare the ground: remove wild grass and stones, spread a 5cm layer of organic fertilizer (highly recommend chicken manure, due to its rapid effectiveness), and rake well so that it is level.
- Now, it’s time to make the grooves, leaving a distance of 30cm between them.
- Then, plant the okras in rows, separated from each other by 20cm.
- Finally, give them a generous watering.
Throughout the season it is very important that you fertilize it from time to time using organic fertilizers , either liquid if you have it in a pot, or powder if it is in the garden. In the first case, you must follow the instructions specified in the product; in the second, it will suffice to spread a layer of 2-3cm around the plant once every 15-20 days.
The harvesting of the fruits is done when they are not yet fully ripe , since otherwise they could not be eaten because they become fibrous and hard. A trick to know the exact moment is to pick them 6 to 10 days after the flower has opened.
Always wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants as the entire plant is protected with small stinging hairs.
Plagues and diseases
- Aphids : they are tiny insects that settle on the flowers and in the areas close to them. They are fought with Neem Oil .
- Whitefly : The nymphs of these insects feed on the sap, weakening it. They are combated with potassium soap , and also with Neem Oil.
- Nematodes : they feed on the roots, which causes their rot. To avoid this, the soil must be treated with diatomaceous earth , which is an ecological insecticide that is quickly effective.
It can be affected by the yellow vein mosaic virus , which is transmitted by, as its name suggests, a virus that causes the appearance of yellow veins on the leaves.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment. Only the affected parts can be removed.
Okra grows well in warm climates with cool nights and hot days. The maximum temperature should be between 25 and 35ºC. It does not resist frost.
Okra is used as an edible fruit plant . It is a vegetable that goes well with tomatoes, onions or even peppers. It can be used to prepare delicious tomato sauces, as in Greece, or, if you prefer, a substitute for coffee as they do in Nicoya (Costa Rica).
Its nutritional composition per 100 grams is as follows:
- Calories : 31kcal.
- Proteins : 2 grams
- Carbohydrates : 7.03 grams, of which 3.2g are fiber and 1.2g sugar
- Fat : 0.1 gram, of which 0.026g is saturated fat, 0.027g polyunsaturated fat, and 0.027g monounsaturated fat.
- Cholesterol : 0mg
- Sodium : 8mg
- Potassium : 303mg
Medicinal properties of okra
Our protagonist, being rich in fiber , is excellent for treating constipation . In addition, it stimulates intestinal transit and is antidiabetic . As if that were not enough, it helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and cleanse the body.