Okra is believe to originate from northern Africa probably Ethiopia. However, this warm climate vegetables have spread growing in warm countries all over the world including temperate region. Because of its quick growth from sowing takes about 8~12weeks growth to produce in warm weather it has become suitable to grow in warm-temperate region as well. In Malay language, okra is known as “bendi” and we learn it in school as lady fingers in English. In India okra is commonly known as “bindi”. So I wonder if okra founds its way to South-East Asia by travelling the sea trading route. from India to Malay Peninsular.
I have never ever found any nursery selling okra seedlings in Adelaide. Adelaide have really hot summer which will be ideal to grow this heat-tolerant plant. It start to produce much quicker than eggplants and peppers. Why not fill in the gap with okra?You can start sowing okra seeds in mid-October as the soil has warm enough for the seeds to germinate and it will start to produce in between the middle of January or February. If you have bountiful harvest of vegetables in your garden, you can straight-away keep okra in freezer unlike eggplants. Okra can be frozen at least 6 months which we did last year and still taste much better than the ones in the supermarket. When we have not start growing our own vegetables in Adelaide, I had a craving for okras and bought a plastic full of it. It was the last time I ever bought okra again because it was so tough, any okra newbies will probably hate this vegetable instantly. I think if you want to start appreciate okra, you must grow it your own (wink).
Newly sprouted home-saved okra seeds with its coat seeds attached (direct sowing).
You can grow okra in containers as well. I direct-sowed okra seeds in this container in early January this year and it started to produce in Early March, although we had cool summer this year compare with last year. Okra growing in containers can grow over 1metre tall as well.
A closer look of Clemson Spineless okra pod. The pod grow very fast usually it is ready to be harvested in 3~5 days if nights are warm.
Okra flower resembles colourful hollyhocks and ornamental hibiscus because the are in the same family. Okra can look like an ornamental plant as an addition in the front yard garden growing along together with Zinnia as companion. Spent-bloom of okra will develop pod as shown in the photo.
At the end of the season, you can leave okra to dry on the plant to collect okra seeds. Immature seeds are white in colour which you see when you harvest okra to eat and cut in the pod half-widthways. This seeds will become hard and black when mature. This okra pod have already matured and the skin has naturally open by itself. Black okra seeds peeping.
Newly harvested Clemson Spineless okra seeds, our second year of collecting home-saved seeds for this variety.
Definitely a plant that can grow very well in Adelaide during the warm season.