Abelmos Edible or Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a species belonging to the Abelmoschus genus from the Malvaceae family. The plant has many other names - ladies' fingers, bhindi, okra, edible hibiscus, gombo. They began to grow okra so long ago that now they cannot pinpoint its origin. For example, there is documentary evidence that the culture was popular in Egypt 2000 BC, but some sources consider India or West Africa to be the birthplace of the species.
Most scientists define okra as a cultigen - a cultivated plant that has no analogues in nature. It is believed that Agalmesh Edible was bred by humans by selection. Moreover, a very long time ago, and it is impossible to determine whether the original species has died out, or the changes have gone so far that it is impossible to relate a wild and domesticated plant as closely related crops.
Where does okra grow
Growing okra or ladies' fingers is within the power of beginners and very busy gardeners, and therefore constantly forgetting to water or feed the plant. If the planting site was chosen correctly, with a high probability the culture will survive and give a harvest even with a negligent attitude towards itself.
What okra is demanding for is heat and sun. If the temperature drops below 12 ° C at night and 15 ° C during the day, the culture may die. The ideal range is considered to be from 20 to 30 ° C. Therefore, in the Middle Lane, the cultivation of okra in open beds is possible only through seedlings. You need to place the bushes in a well-lit place.
Okra prefers fertile loose soils with a slightly acidic reaction, but will bear fruit in a wide range of pH readings - from 5.5 to 8. The culture loves potassium and abundant watering, but withstands drought and lack of fertilizing.
Important! What the plant needs to be sure to provide is protection from strong winds - the stem is too fragile, it is more likely to break than bend.
Since okra grows wild in its wild form close to the equator, it requires long daylight hours. Scientists have even calculated the minimum at which the plant will bear fruit - 12 often 30 minutes.
How okra grows
It is noteworthy that the description of okra can be found among vegetable and ornamental plants. There are quite picturesque varieties, but ordinary ones bloom so attractively that they have won a place for themselves in the flower beds.
Okra is a herbaceous plant, depending on the variety, the height of which ranges from 30-40 cm to 2 m. The stem is juicy, thick, woody, rather fragile, especially in tall forms, pubescent. At the base, it branches into 2-7 processes.
Leaves on long petioles are palmate, with 5 or 7 lobes, pubescent. Depending on the variety, their length ranges from 10 to 20 cm, the color is green, from light to dark.
Single flowers are simple, large, 4-8 cm in diameter, usually yellow or white, often with red or purple spots at the base of the petals (there can be 7 or 8 of them). The fruit is a pentagonal capsule with slimy contents and a large number of seeds, resembling the shape of hot pepper pods, only ribbed and covered with hairs. Their length after ripening can reach 18 cm (in some varieties - 25 cm).
There are many varieties of okra, many of which are designed to be grown in a specific region. Four even got into the State Register, but much more can be grown in the Middle Lane, especially in greenhouses.
- Star of David - differs in more facets than most varieties of okra, thick fruits 7 cm long, purple leaves;
- Blondie - early ripening yellow-green pods 8 cm long;
- Cow Horn - okra up to 2.5 m high, with aromatic fruits 25 cm long;
- Alabama Red is often used as an ornamental plant, its dark red pods turn green after heat treatment;
- Clemson Spineless grows up to 150 cm, dark green fruits up to 15 cm long are devoid of hairs;
- Ladies Fingers - mid-season okra about 1 m high;
- Ballet is the newest variety created in 2018;
- White Velvet;
- Green Velvet;
- Dwarf Green;
- Tall 100;
- White Cylindrical.
Okra variety, included in the State Register in 2013, created by Euro-Seeds LLC. Recommended for growing in all regions. It is used fresh, frozen, canned, dried.
Ovaries weighing 9-10 g at the age of 3-6 days, 8-10 cm long, up to 2 cm thick are eaten. From the moment of germination to the first harvest, 75 days pass. The stem is 60 cm high, the leaves are green, erect, the flowers are light yellow.
From 1 sq. m collect 1-1.2 kg of fruit.
The Saratov variety Vlada was adopted by the State Register in 2016. Recommended for cultivation throughout Russia, it is used fresh and after heat treatment. This variety is not intended for processing.
The first crop is harvested 65-70 days after full sprouting. Stem 40-65 cm high, with sparse stiff hairs, dark green leaves, yellowish cream buds.
From 1 sq. meters, up to 1.3 kg of 3-6-day greens weighing 50-70 g, up to 20 cm long are collected.
The okra Yunona variety, created by the Gavrish agricultural company, was registered in 2005. Unlike others, it is recommended for cultivation not only in personal subsidiary plots, but also in small farms. It is used both fresh and processed. For the winter, it can be preserved, frozen, dried.
This variety is late ripening. After emergence, the first crop is harvested after 90-115 days. Okra Juno is a herbaceous vine up to 2 m tall. Leaves are heart-shaped with split edges rather than palmate. Lemon flowers.
From 1 sq. m you can collect 3.7 kg of pods weighing 10-30 g.
Features of growing okra plant
The culture is thermophilic, but it has many varieties. If you take only those that are recommended for growing in Russia, there will be no problems. Exotic varieties brought from tropical countries in the Middle Lane are unlikely to survive.
Growing okra in the suburbs
In the open field, the cultivation of okra is possible near Moscow only through seedlings. Young plants are moved to the garden bed after the air and soil temperatures rise so much that they become comfortable for the crop.
It makes no sense to plant okra in the greenhouses of the Moscow region - it is not such a valuable vegetable to take up space. In addition, if you wait a bit, the culture will feel great outdoors.
Growing okra in the Urals
By and large, the average monthly temperature makes it possible to grow okra in the open field in the Urals through seedlings. But the climate there is changeable, there is a great danger that a well-established plant, which has already managed to give a crop, will not survive the very first weather "cataclysm".
So in the Urals, okra should be grown in a greenhouse or under a film cover. You can put arcs, stock up on film or white agrofibre, and at the first danger, protect the culture from bad weather. Just first you should think about whether the harvest is worth the effort.
Growing okra in Siberia
Okra can only be grown here indoors. The question arises: is it necessary? First, it is worth planting several bushes in the greenhouse, and evaluating the culture, and only then occupying significant areas for it.
Firstly, okra is unusual for us, for commercial purposes it is necessary to grow it only after carefully studying the market, since, frankly, the demand for it is insignificant. Secondly, the beauty of culture for the most part lies in its unpretentiousness, which is true for the southern regions and partly of the Middle Belt, but not Siberia.
When to sow okra seeds
At home, growing okra from seeds will not be difficult even for those who are wary of planting seedlings - such an operation, unloved by many, as picking, is omitted here. It is important to correctly guess the time. And it depends on two factors:
- climate of the region;
You need to calculate the timing yourself. By the time the seedlings are planted in open ground, the soil should warm up to at least 10 ° C, and the temperature even at night should be above 12 ° C.
Early varieties are planted 30 days after germination, for late ones - the deadline is 45 days. You should not keep the okra seedlings on the windowsill longer - they will outgrow, and the fragile stem may break.
Planting okra for seedlings
In the middle lane, okra is grown exclusively through seedlings. It is possible to plant seeds in the ground when the air and soil are warmed up, and the probability of return frosts has passed. This usually happens only in June.
Considering that even the earliest varieties begin to bear fruit more than 45 days after germination, there will be little time left for harvesting. It is also better to plant seedlings in greenhouses. This will prolong fruiting and shorten the time before the first pods are set.
In what container to grow okra
Okra seedlings can only be grown in peat pots - they have a long, pivotal root and may not recover from damage. So there can be no talk of a pick.
It is undesirable to use even individual plastic cups or special cassettes for seedlings. When a young plant is taken out of the container, the root is still injured, albeit slightly. But for okra, this can be fatal.
Soil and seed preparation
For growing seedlings, you can use purchased soil specially designed for this purpose, which is poured into peat-melting cups, compacted and moistened. If this is not done, the first planted and then watered seeds will fall through, and will be too deep. To improve germination, they are soaked for 12-24 hours in warm water.
Planting okra on seedlings is done as follows: 2-3 seeds are placed in each glass to a depth of 2-3 cm, watered. Then the containers are placed in a common tray, covered with glass or transparent film, and placed on the windowsill.
Every day, an impromptu greenhouse needs to be ventilated and the moisture content of the soil should be checked. The preferred temperature for seed germination is the range from 18 to 21 ° C. Watering is best done by spraying from a household spray bottle with warm water.
The first shoots should appear in about 6-7 days.
When 2 real leaves appear, one, the strongest sprout, is left. The rest are cut with nail scissors at ground level.
Okra seedlings need abundant watering. It is kept in a sunny place, best of all on the southern windowsill. If necessary, light up for at least 12 hours a day.
Although the seedlings can do without fertilizing, it is still better to water it once with a weak solution of complex fertilizers.
Advice! If the okra is stretching, the intensity or time of the backlight should be increased.
Immediately before planting in open ground, young plants need to be hardened. To do this, seedlings begin to be taken out into the street in 7-10 days. The first time the okra should stand there for 2-3 hours, then the time spent in the fresh air is gradually increased. The last two days, the seedlings are left to spend the night on the street.
How to plant okra outdoors
When the ground and air have warmed up, the okra can be planted in open ground. The place should be sunny and sheltered from the wind.
Landing site preparation
The garden bed is dug at least 2 weeks before planting, and even better to do this in the fall. Weeds and stones are removed. Chernozem does not need to be improved. Humus is introduced into poor soils for digging, it will also improve the structure and make the earth permeable to water and air.
If for some reason it was not possible to prepare the bed in advance, after loosening it is watered. The soil will sag a little, and the seeds or seedlings will not fall lower than necessary.
If you plant it correctly, then caring for the okra will be simple. The main thing is to choose the right time and place for the garden.
Planting okra seeds
The holes are made at a distance of about 30 cm from each other. For ease of care and harvesting, they have two lines. If many plants are planted, about 60 cm is left in the aisles.
The seeds are soaked overnight or for a day, buried by about 2-3 cm. Watered, mulched with peat or dry soil.
Planting okra seedlings
Seedlings are planted at the same distance as okra seeds. Only the soil needs not only to be loosened, but to dig holes in the size of peat pots. They should not be deepened; it is enough to sprinkle the surface of 2-3 cm of fertile soil. Water abundantly.
Important! If you try to remove the peat-peat pot before planting the okra, the seedlings will most likely not take root.
Watering and feeding
It is especially necessary to moisten the soil for the first 2 weeks after planting the seedlings, or a month after the emergence of seedlings. Then watering is done if it has not rained for a long time. At the same time, it is not recommended to overdry the culture at all - this will reduce the quantity and quality of green plants.
Advice! It is better to water okra infrequently, but abundantly - the soil should get wet to a depth of 30-40 cm.
On fertile or cultivated soils, okra is usually fertilized once at an early stage with a complex preparation. This is quite enough.
Weeding and loosening
These operations are especially important for young plants. Then, if the site is not too overgrown with weeds, weeding and loosening of the soil is carried out every 2 weeks. For greater stability, the okra can be earthed.
Actually, you don't need to mulch the okra soil. But it makes life much easier for gardeners - it retains moisture, does not allow weeds to germinate or form a crust on the ground. For mulching, you can use cut grass or weeds that have not had time to sow in the sun.
This procedure is optional, but desirable. When the okra reaches 40 cm, the top is cut off. So it will give more side shoots, the yield will increase, as will the resistance of the bush.
It is recommended to tie tall varieties to a support - this way they suffer less from the wind.
Is it possible to grow okra indoors
In the North, okra can only be grown in a greenhouse. But many gardeners do not consider it to be such a valuable crop to replenish the number of indoor plants. In any case, it is better to first plant a few bushes, and before starting industrial cultivation, study the market, or find wholesale buyers.
The agricultural technology of okra in open and closed ground differs little. If watering and feeding in the greenhouse is automatic, this will not damage the culture.
When and how okra is harvested
The beginning of fruiting depends on the weather and the variety. If the temperature is low, up to 20 ° C, then even early ripening okra will not give the first harvest 50 days after germination.
Only young pods are eaten. In this case, it is better to focus on their age, rather than size. The length of the fruit strongly depends on the same temperature, watering, structure and composition of the soil. Zelentsy rip at the age of 3-5 days, and the earlier they were harvested, the better and tastier the pods.
Important! Overripe fruits become fibrous and lignified.
Leaving the pods on the plant is not recommended, as okra will drastically reduce productivity. It is better to give them away or throw them away if you cannot eat or process them. After all, okra can be frozen.
By the way, if you store the pods for longer than 1-2 days, they can age and become fibrous even in the refrigerator.
These recommendations are given to those who grow okra for fresh consumption or processing of zelents. But do not forget that mature seeds of this culture are considered the best substitute for coffee.So, perhaps those people who will not eat okra because of the slimy contents of the young pods will love the drink made from its roasted and milled beans. All over the world he is known as a gombo.
When harvesting okra, you need to work with gloves - the hairs covering the pods can cause skin irritation or allergies. They are easily removed by washing the fruit.
Diseases and pests
Most often, the culture suffers from verticillary wilting - it causes the death of the plant. The problem can be:
- powdery mildew;
- leaf spot;
- root nematodes.
Among the pests of okra it is worth noting separately:
- spider mite;
- corn worm;
Since the crop is harvested at least once every 3 days, you should not fight pests and diseases by chemical methods. It is better to use an infusion of garlic, onion peel or other folk remedies.
Okra is easily propagated by seeds that remain viable for up to two years. You can collect them yourself, leaving a few of the best pods on the plant. It should be borne in mind that the productivity of the bush will drop sharply.
People are not used to growing okra in Russia. This culture is not only new, but also does not cause delight among a large part of gardeners, meanwhile, they simply do not know how to cook it correctly.