Okra

(Abelmoschus esculentus) Okra, also known as gumbo or lady’s finger, is a hibiscus relative grown for its immature seed pods. Okra thrives in hot weather and is often the last one standing in Southern gardens when the punishing summer heat has brought less hardy vegetables to their knees. Contrary to common belief, okra grows just fine in northern gardens, too — the plants grow and produce seed pods quickly once summer has set in. Okra’s exact origin is unknown, although it is believed to hail from Ethiopia, western Africa and southern Asia. Okra was introduced to the Americas in the 1600s, presumably carried from Africa aboard slave ships. Southern growers should soak seeds the night before planting, and direct seed after soil has warmed and all chance of frost has passed. Plant about six inches apart in rows six feet apart. Shorter season growers can start okra indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the expected last frost date. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep, ideal soil temperature is 80-90F. Seeds are quick to germinate if the soil is warm enough and will pop in just 4-10 days. Space plants 12 inches apart. Okra will tolerate poor soil, little water, and it does not like excessively rich soil.

COOK IT! Okra Recipes HERE

 

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