Originally Posted by Kathleen
I would like to grow some okra. How many plants should I consider to get enough for a side dish for two from time to time?
Is Georgia close enough to be "mid-Atlantic"? Here's UG's sheets on okra.
Commercial Okra Production | CAES Publications | UGA
Growing Okra in the Home Garden | CAES Publications | UGA
(I make good use of the commercial advisories, as well as home growing advice. They sometimes have better information.)
As to how much to plant, I can only tell you about what I find in Texas. Here, if all I wanted was an occasional side dish, all I would need would be a couple of plants. Obviously, I would need more if I wanted to freeze enough to last beyond the season. I got enough just for some meals in season this last year from two plants that came up by themselves from the year before. Here, I would figure ten plants to eat during season and freeze for the rest of the year. That depends on the variety and what size I harvest them.
Okra loves heat and tolerates drought well. Don't worry about fertilization if your soil is anywhere close to reasonable. If you overfeed okra, it all goes to plant and no fruit. But, if needed, do work on your soil so that it drains well. Mix in sand, etc. to achieve this. I grow equally well in on side of the property that has tons of rocks and drains immediately and on the other side, which is black dirt.
Another reason for having a number of plants is that you would like to harvest when the okra is at the "fancy" stage, two to three inches, depending on variety. It's more tender. Harvest daily. In hot weather, one pod can grow from fancy size to tough and stringy in a couple of days. Look closely. I do, and even then I often miss one or two pods that I didn't see.
I guess you can do as they advise and soak the seed. I never have, and I kind of have to stick them in the ground and jump back as the plant comes up. Okra is very robust and vigorous. The only pest I have ever had on them was ants that would attack the young pods. If they take a nick out of it, that pod will grow into a curve. Still good to eat, though. And no, they don't transplant well, but they grow so fast that it doesn't matter.
Oh. And wear gloves. The term "spineless" is merely relative.