All about Lady Finger / Okra

All about Lady Finger / Okra

Ladies finger is a very popular vegetable grown in India. Commonly

known as Bhindi, it thrives well in summer. The flowers of the plant are extremely

beautiful and brighten the garden when in full bloom. One main reason why many

farmers prefer growing okra is that the plant needs very little maintenance and

when one pod is harvested another one grows in its place.

 Season – Though summer is the best season to grow ladies finger, it makes a good

winter crop too. Seeds can be grown indoors and can be transplanted outside when

it is sunny during the day. If the temperature drops below 15degrees during the

night, the entire crop can be prone to cold injury.

Location Constraints– Choosing the sunny spot in the garden would do good to

your okra crop. Shady places can ruin the pods. Checking the soil before sowing

the seeds is advisable. Since acidic soils suit ladies finger the best, you can

increase the pH level by adding lime to the land.

 

Sunlight – Six hours of incessant sunlight per day is necessary to grow ladies

finger. If the day gets really hot, don’t worry, your okra plant will definitely enjoy

it.

Spacing – Ladies finger plants grow in bushes so it is very important to space

them well. Plant the seeds 15inches to 18inches apart so that they don’t look

messy when they grow huge.

 

Growth – Approximately after eight weeks, the ladies finger pods begin to

appear. But what will surprise you is that the pods grow really fast once they pop

out. Within a couple of days you will spot full grown ladies fingers.

Height and Spreading– A ladies finger plant can grow up to a height of 7feet or

more depending upon the land. The plants are also very bushy and if not spaced

well, they can encroach on to the other plant thus hindering their own growth.

Temperature – An optimum temperature of 35degress is what ladies finger

crops require. If you are sowing the seeds in winter, ensure that they remain in a

sunny spot during the day but stay out of chilling cold weather in the night. Too

much cold can kill the plant overnight.

Watering – Ladies finger plant is a warm-weather crop and still requires watering

everyday to grow faster. Initially you may water once in the morning when the sun

rays are still dim. During peak growth stage watering the plant twice a day will

help the pods. Always ensure that the water doesn’t stand in the soil, allowing

water-borne fungi to thrive.

 

Nutrient Management– Since okra is grown over a long period of time, the soil

tends to run short of nutrients after a while. Once you harvest the first crop,

fertilising the soil will help the other batches of ladies finger pods. Vermi compost,

natural red soil or an organic fertiliser enriches the land quickly.

Pest Management – When the ladies finger plant reaches its peak growth stage,

it is prone to a lot of pest infestation. Look out for ladies finger plant diseases

caused by tiny aphids and worms that eat up the pods while they are still in the

bud stage. Flea beetles and wet soil are the two biggest enemies for any okra

crop. Check the leaves thoroughly and pluck away those that seem to contain

insects. Aerating the land from time-to-time helps the root system in fighting

fungi. Sanitizing the garden after harvesting each crop ensures that the land is

pest free.

 

Harvesting of Okra – Harvesting okra pods needs to be really quick after they

bloom. To promote re-growing of the pods, pick ladies finger as and when they are

ripe. Fully grown ladies finger are 2 to 3inch long. Cut the pods just above the cap

and you will see a new pod coming up. You can continue this process all through

the season and stop once the plant stops producing pods.

 

Uses and health benefits– Ladies finger pods are rich in dietary fibre that

controls cholesterol and constipation. New pods contain natural folates that help

in conception. Folic acid decreases the risk of neural birth defects in embryos.

Okra is also a great source of Vitamin C that improves our body’s immunity levels.

 

Additional Information – Okra plants and pods are full of tiny thorns that can

irritate the skin. When you are caring for the plants or picking the pods, cover your

hands with gloves to avoid itchiness.

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