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Your Guide for Growing Okra

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • Okra enjoys dry, well composted soil, full sun, pH between 5.5 and 6.0 and should be planted after the soil temperature has reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Okra goes by a number of other names including bamia, gumbo and ochre; it is believed to have originated near Ethiopia and then cultivated by the Egyptians. Today it comes in at least 36 varieties, growing from 4 to over 7 feet tall
  • Most plants may be harvested within 60 days of planting and should be harvested every several days so the vegetables do not grow larger than 3 to 4 inches long, as this increases the chance of it becoming hard and woody
  • Okra may be used in stews, soups, eaten raw or used as a thickening agent. The little pods are packed with vitamins, minerals and glutathione, recognized as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against oxidative damage

Okra (Hibiscus esculentus) is a unique, annual vegetable from the same family as the hollyhock. It is usually the color of fresh corn husks, has the shape of a spike and the texture of a grooved cucumber. When sliced, it may remind you of a tiny star fruit. In this short video, you'll see how easy it is to add to your garden planting.

Although technically a fruit because its seeds are inside the plant, okra is usually referred to as a vegetable that is also called "lady fingers" in reference to their shape, and comes in more than one variety. It is a favorite in the American South and areas of Africa and the Mediterranean, where it is usually cooked.


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