By Albert Makendenge
Okra has, arguably, established itself as one of the most popular vegetable delicacies that many Zimbabwean families get to enjoy with their sadza and establishing it in one’s backyard is not that hard to do.
Okra grows better in well-drained sandy loam soils which are high in organic matter and have got a pH of 5.8 to 6.5.
The crop can be grown all year round particularly in hotter regions of the country since the ideal temperatures for growth are above 25oC (which goes with without saying that it loves warm weather)
Plant spacing can be done at 60cm between rows and 5cm in-row. It being a summer crop, the ideal time for planting is between August and January and germination can take up to a fortnight depending on light, oxygen and moisture conditions.
For a successful okra crop, chicken or kraal manure are the best possible options for nourishment apart from inorganic fertilizers such as compound D.
Okra loves the heat and can withstand a dry spell but will still need about 25mm of water every week.
Pests, weeds and diseases
Scout the crop regularly for pests and diseases with nematodes, whiteflies, aphids and mites topping the list. It is best to resort to traditional methods of controlling pests since there are a few products registered to be used on okra.
After about 50 to 65 days, okra should have reached maturity and therefore ready to be harvested. Harvesting should be done when the fruit is bright green, the pod is fleshy and the seeds small.