Growing Okra at the Allotment

Growing Okra at the Allotment

Growing Okra in the UK: A Detailed Guide

Originating in tropical Africa, okra, also known as 'Ladies Fingers', is a perennial plant that is highly valued by many for its edible green fruits. 

Growing okra in the UK can be a bit challenging as it requires heat and full sun to grow. However, it is certainly worth the effort. Okra is rich in Vitamin A and low in calories, making it an exceptional addition to your diet. 

When you grow okra in the UK, you’ll notice they like the same growing conditions as aubergines; in a greenhouse or a very sunny and hot position. 

Fun Fact: If you look closely at the flower of okra, you may notice a resemblance to a Hibiscus flower. This is no coincidence – okra is a member of the Hibiscus family!

Considering adding a new healthy plant to the allotment? Our in-depth guide on growing okra in the UK can help you get started!

How To Grow Okra in the UK

Okra can be sown indoors from March to April and propagated in a warm and sunny position. Sow the okra seeds in individual modular trays after soaking the seeds in warm water for two hours. As the seedlings grow, re-pot into larger individual pots.

During late May-early June when the plants have grown to approximately 5 inches, plant the okra in their final growing position after hardening them off and protecting them with fleece if need be.

When you’re growing okra in the UK, ensure the plants have plenty of heat and watering. Also, add mulch for moisture retention.

As the plants grow to approximately 2 feet, pinch out the shoot tips to encourage side shoots and then form pods. If you plan to grow okra in the UK, remember the plants can grow up to 4ft. So, they will require supporting canes.

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Harvesting and Storing Okra 

Typically, okra plants produce pods from mid-summer to early autumn. When you’re growing okra in the UK, you can harvest the pods after flowering, once the pods are approximately 3 inches long. 

Okra is covered in short hair that could irritate sensitive skin. As such, to be safe, wear gloves and long sleeves when you’re harvesting or touching them. 

When you grow okra in the UK, it’s best to harvest the pods when they are immature and tender. Be sure to handle them gently as their skin can get easily marked. Mature pods can be stringy and tough. 

Okra is a “cut-and-come-again” plant. Picking the pods will encourage more pods to grow and the last harvest should be before the first frost.

Okra pods can be cooked right away or frozen and stored for later use.

Common Problems with Growing Okra in the UK

Okra is a straightforward plant to grow, as long as it receives sufficient warmth. 

However, when you’re growing okra in the UK, keep an eye out for pesky red spider mites and whiteflies. It’s best to take action at the first sign of these pests with biological control methods. 

It’s also a good idea to improve circulation by opening doors and vents, and to increase humidity by damping the floor if you wish to successfully grow okra in the UK.

Growing Samphire in the UK: A Summary

Want to know how to grow samphire in a few easy steps? Read this!

Sowing Okra

  • Sow indoors in March-April
  • Re-pot until 5 inches
  • Harden off and plant out late May-early June

Growing Okra 

  • Water regularly and keep weed-free
  • Keep in a sunny or hot position
  • Support with canes

Harvesting Okra

  • Pick young pods regularly
  • Pick pods from late summer-early autumn
  • Can be frozen

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