Also known as Ladies' Fingers or Bhindi, Okra resembles no other commonly eaten vegetable. It is popular in India, Asia, the Southern States of America, South America, and West Africa, with possible origins in Egypt, spreading out across the world from there. It is a star ingredient in dishes such as gumbo, curries and Cajun cooking and it can be baked, fried, roasted, stewed, pickled, and barbequed. A quick internet search reveals a myriad of recipes from a wide range of cultures.
Okra can be grown in a home garden; however, it does need a long hot summer for the best results. It likes soil temperatures between 20 and 35°C and dislikes frost so it is a good idea to make sure it is warm enough outside before planting seedlings in the garden. Okra prefers a rich fertile soil with plenty of organic material incorporated.
They grow to be quite tall plants and need at least half a metre between each plant and a metre between rows. It can take 16 – 20 weeks before you see a harvest, however it is a stunning looking plant with beautiful flowers. The pods can become woody and inedible if left too long so harvest regularly while they are tender.
There are a couple of down sides with Okra however; they have hairs that can be an irritant when handled, so wear a sturdy pair of gardening gloves. They can be a little gooey when cut, but this can be remedied by cooking with acidic foods.