OKRA - vacation help

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I will be leaving soon for two weeks. Nobody will be able to harvest from my vegetable garden.
Water will be on a timer, so no problem there.

I am worry that my Okra plants will produce those huge "missile" size pods while I am away ... and they'd stunt the plants for a while.

So here is my idea and I hope some of you did try before:
I 'd like to trim the top of the plant just below each flower bud cluster ... in this way the plant will take the time to develop new branches and not pods ... and when I come home I will have pods ...

What do you think?

Thumbnail by drthor
New Port Richey, FL

It seems I remember Farmerdill or Horseshoe doing that with success. Maybe they'll be along soon.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

When you top okra it grows sideways- branches can be 6' out from the stem, the seed pods can be dried for next year, you are apt to get them anyway after topping, do you have room to have 12' wide bush okra? Trimming mine always made em grow faster tho... Good luck

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

kittriana
thanks so much for your help.
This is only my second year growing OKRA ... I cannot believe I lived so long without discovering this amazing veggie.
My problem is not the space ... I just don't want to stunt the plants.

So if I understand right: If I top the okra stems, they will split and grow horizontally?

Do you think it will take about 10 days to start to produce again?

(sorry ... I hope I can explain myself ... my English sometimes doesn't come out right)

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Drthor, what if you just pick off all visible buds right before you leave?
Whether your okra makes side shoots, and how wide they will grow depends on the variety. I think for some okra to make side shoots, the plant must have some little teeny ones started at the leaf nodes, otherwise if you top it, it just stops growing alltogether and dies. I have one heirloom variety that grows 8-10 ft tall with side shoots that grow straight up but I can't top this variety until the side shoots are pretty well established.
I am also on vacation now but someone is picking my okra (and other veggies) every other day while I'm gone. One year I had no one to pick for me so I left things to grow. I was growing a variety of okra called North and South. When I got home some of the pods were huge. I cleaned up the plants, cut off all overgrown pods and the plant kept right on producing okra until I pulled up the plants much later in the season.

Talihina, OK

Like you I have trimmed them back when going on vacation ,I trimmed mine pretty hard so not sure they will be back in 2 weeks and they did develope some side shoots but actually not as many as I had hoped.i think what will suprize you the most is how sturdy it will make the stalks ..just don't go over board on the pruning

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Calalily
my Okra is making pods big like missiles every two days !!
Ok ... so I will not cut the top off ... I will just let them make huge pods.

Now I am reading grits74571 ... so you did cut the top off ... but you didn't have productions like you expected when you came back ... but a stronger plant ...

OMG I am confused on what to do !
Ok, I will not go in vacation !

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

If your weather is good, then the okra is simply setting seeds, it doesn't stunt them to trim the fruits, or allow them to just keep growing, once you come home and trim off the seed pod 'missiles' the plant says Ooops! And goes back to trying to grow more seeds, once it discovers those old ones are missing. even when the pods are setting huge the okra will still be blooming and making fruit- my Clemson Spineless and red velvet both never slowed for anything...try an experiment drthor- trim one, ignore one but strip the buds and fruit, etc, and let us know!!!

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Yes, what kittriana said, that is what I was trying to say. Just trim off the giant pods when you get home.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

ok ... I will let you know at the end of August !
Thanks y'all

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Yep, as flsusie said, it was me that cut their okra plants back, and have done it for years.

As a mkt grower I sometimes just got tired of picking rows and rows of okra and needed a break. I took a weedwhacker that had a saw blade on it (it's what was conveniently available at the time!) and cut all the plants back by about one half. It worked like a charm, giving me a reprieve from picking for a couple weeks.

The plants easily grew new shoots (none of the plants growing 12 ft across, by the way) and gave me a new/second harvest.

Keep in mind some okra varieties are daylength sensitive; Clemson Spineless being neutral, more or less. What I noticed is that as the end of season progresses you'll still get flowers/buds but few and frequent but it was mostly due to lack of plant food/fertilizer. Okra is a heavy feeder so if you want to go this route I'd cut the plants back and, depending on what plant food/lfertilizer you use either side-dress them the day you cut them (for a slow-release fert) or side-dress them the day you return from your trip (for a water-soluble/chem fert).

Hope this helps!

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Great info Shoe. I never thought about okra being daylength sensitive! We have an old heirloom from Africa and also Emerald Velvet. That one takes forever to start bearing and the more spacing between plants, the wider it gets (but never 12 feet). I will have to do research to see if it is daylength sensitive as we are growing this one in the greenhouse for winter. We have lights, so can extend daylength if needed, except we are never as short days as other areas north of us.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

I tried white okra one year- the pods stayed tender longer, but grew 3x slower, It's never gotten beyond 7' for me either.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy, Cala/Susie. Hey! I thought you were on vacation! :>)

Yeh, I was wondering about okra some years back when folks were looking for "the perfect pods" to enter into the State Fair. Unfortunately our State Fair is in October and by then okra production has really dwindled. I had to look further and found out about the daylength sensitivity. Fortunately there are many types that rely on short days to flower, not needing longer days.

kittriana, I've been growing Betty's White okra for a number of years and it is very productive in my area. DGer "Ozark" was kind enough to enter it in the Plant Database:
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/199362/
It may be another white you'd like to try sometime.

Shoe

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

I may do it when I allow myself to retire, it would be sad to live without okra.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Yep, pretty sad.
Next time you cruise down I-85, holler. I'll meet you at the chicken coop with a jar of pickled okra! :>)

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

You got it! I run under the handle- 'this be Katie, as in Katiedid, but don't no more! Keep the sunnyside up and the dirty side down- stay cool on the stool and keep her 'tween the ditches and I'll catch ya out here another time' and now to get me few winks and roll out toward Kennesaw, Ga abt 0630! Latr Gatr!

Talihina, OK

Dw and I usually try and take an August Vacation but looks like this year we are going to be staying home and watching all of our gardens burn to a crisp,our okra is just starting to produce good so all is not bad so maybe a September trip will be in order..DRTHOR where are you headed?? and are you going to post pix and stuff along thr way???

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Grits, we came thru OK last week and it was so dry and temps were 107 most of the way across. Ranchers were burning the range grass, smoke everywhere then we ran into a storm on the north end where it cooled down for a little while then back up to 103.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I have a question about how to determine when an okra is too far gone to use.

I accidentally mixed up the Hill Country Reds with the Cowhorns. I know you're supposed to be able to grow the cowhorns much longer than the other varieties, without them getting woody, but since the two are growing side by side, I can't tell which is which.

Is there another way to determine if a long okra is ok? Somewhere I read that if you can bend the tip on an okra easily, it is still good to go. Is this correct?

Help!

Thanks!

Linda

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Linda, when I cut the okra from the plant if the stem is "crunchy, i.e. kind of fibrous feeling" I know it is probably too tough. To test for toughness, cut the tip with your knife, if it "crunches" instead of slipping thru easily, it is tough. (I hope this makes sense)
My Asian Indian customers cook the tough okra whole, then holding the stem end of the cooked okra, bite it and pull the tender part off leaving the fibers still attached to the stem. I tried it but not my favorite way to eat okra!

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

It is very easy to find out when Okra is good or not, while the pod is still on the plant.
Just bend with your finger the point of the pod.
If the tip will bend = Okra is good.
If the tip will NOT bend = Okra missile = not good = over-ripe



This message was edited Jul 31, 2012 3:45 PM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, ya'll!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

The white okra I grew wouldn't bend a tip, but was tender, I love okra no more than 2 bites long, chuckle, but once it turns woody, it's just too far gone for me, the white okra stayed tender while larger than the Clemson Spineless tho, can't remember the other pleas that much... a lot of em were whatever the feed store had ordered in as bulk seed, and we'd just pick up a pre-sized scoop while there, along with seed taters, purple hulls, etc.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Ditto, kittriana..

You'll find okra may be tender and flexible on the tip, even with some length to it, but rather fibrous towards the stem end. Calalily, that may be why your Asian customers will eat their large okra that way, biting (or sliding) off the tender part leaving the thicker fiber behind. Sounds similar to eating steamed/boiled artichoke petals, doesn't it. :>)

If in doubt about okra I just bite the tip off and after a few trials you can tell if the rest is tender (w/out biting every single pod!). You could also probably do the same just snapping the pod in half...a clean snap, tender; a rubbery pod, feed it to the chickens.

Linda, if you're growing two different kinds of okra together you're most likely to end up with a hybrid if you save any seeds. Okra readily crosses.

Shoe (who really should be out picking okra).

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Drthor? You never told us what okra you chose to grow- and have you tried the vine okra yet?

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

vine okra?
I never heard such a thing !
What is it?

I am a seedholic so I have many okra plants:
Red Jing
Red Burgundy
Stewart Zeebest
Louisiana 16" long something
Philipine Lady Fingers
... and I forgot !

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Luffa acutangula - climbing okra- cousin to a louffa plant, but actually closer kin to the cucurbits. Decorative edible and ornamental!

Talihina, OK

Now Y'all bear in mind that I am a natural born Louisiana boy wher okar is almost a religion and along with that i am an incurable garden experimenter I have at one point in my life tried every kind of Okra that I could get my hands on always come back to the Dwarf Green and Clemson Spineless The Burgundy was very pretty but also for me pretty tasteless though it was a persoal favorite of one of my sisters

Johnson City, TN(Zone 6b)

I just found this thread on okra. Mine has produced like crazy this year. Only problem now is that the stems are about 7 foot tall. I can't reach the ones at the top. I had never thought about topping them. My red okra was topped naturally by the deer early on but has survived and finally doing well. Thanks for the advice on bending the tip for testing toughness. I usually just pinch in the middle and if I hear a crunch I toss it away and do the knife test when preparing. No matter how often I pick my okra I still have those hugh ones to toss out. I think they hide from me lol. Until this week all the large okra was tough. Now my big okra seems very tender. Any suggestions as to why? Could the cooler weather play a part in it?

A neighbor gave me some okra that was hugh (long and fat). I wish I had taken a pic of it. It gets very big and is very tender. She did not remember to variety. Any ideas?

Thanks all for your input.

Talihina, OK

just guessing but I am going to say it is Cowhorn AKA longhorn

Johnson City, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks. It could be cowhorn but what I was given seemed thicker spined. Not sure I am explaining it correctly. Although it was very tender, when you cut it there was a very definate deep spine.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Shoe.

Looks like I'll be ordering new seeds for next season.

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