One of the last veggies that I plant in the spring is okra. This is a hot weather plant that can actually be hurt by planting too early. Okra does best when temperatures are between 75 and 90. Soil temperatures at 4 inches depth are vital for okra, and it does best when soil temperatures are above 70. Planting is not recommended if soil temperatures are lower than 65. Planting okra before it is warm enough will lead to a lower percentage of the seeds germinating, and the plants that do sprout will be slow growers… even when it warms up. In fact, an okra seed planted when it is warm enough will often catch up and grow bigger than one planted weeks earlier if it was too cold.

Okra needs a lot of room to grow. Plant 12 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart. If okra plants are too close together, they will compete for resources and growth and yield will be stunted. Okra can be planted from seed or from transplant. The only real benefit of planting transplants is that you can be sure you get a plant every 12 inches. Sometimes the seeds do not germinate, then you are left with a two foot gap in your row. When planting from seed, you can put more than one seed in the hole to make sure you get a plant every 12 inches. When they germinate, you must go back and thin the seedlings so that just one is growing every 12 inches.

Okra plants grow tall, and can grow over 6 feet tall. In two months, you will begin to get okra. Pick the pods when they are 2-4 inches long. Do not leave them on the plant too long, or they will get tough and woody. Clippers are needed to harvest okra, and they need to be picked every day, or at most every other day. If you leave the pods on the plants, they will stop producing.

To make room for the okra, we have harvested the rest of our turnip. It is also time to cut down our peas. We planted these in February, and they have yellowing and are drying up in the warmer weather. We had a great harvest of peas, but now they are done and we need the space. Make sure all the peas have been harvested. If the pods are still green, eat them like you have the others that you harvested. If the pods have turned yellow or tan, then the peas will be dry and starchy. These peas can be used in a soup, or dried out and saved to plant next year.

So far in the garden, when we have removed a plant, I have stressed removing the roots to avoid spreading disease and attracting pests. The exception to that rule is legumes… veggies like peas and beans. Legumes are unique because they take nitrogen out of the air and add it to the soil. It is like natural fertilizer. When legumes do this, they store the nitrogen in their roots. By leaving the roots in the garden, the nitrogen will be added to the soil as the roots decompose.

Elsewhere in the garden, green beans, carrots and beets are ready to be harvested.