Okra – A Zone 9 Summer Staple

By: Dan Hagan - Managing Editor

In Zone 9 there are few vegetable that grow very well in the Summer. The long days and scorching heat can wreak havoc on a garden. One of the few stand outs in the Zone 9 Summer Garden is Okra.

About Okra

Okra is a perennial plant that is oftentimes grown as an annual in temperate climates as it does not survive cold winters. The plant can grow up to 7’ tall and is a member of the same family as the hibiscus plants.

Okra is available in two colors, the more popular green and red. The red pods differ only in color and turn green when cooked.

How to Grow Okra

Okra is a rather undemanding plant. It grows well in almost any soil, but prefers a well drained loamy soil, sandy soils also work well for okra. When the plant is young it requires a fair amount of water, but once established Okra is quite hardy.

A well balanced soil works well for Okra. There are no specific NPK requirements and a high quality compost will provide all the nutrients that an Okra plant needs to grow.

Okra in the Summer

In Zone 9, summers can be brutal on the garden. The long very hot days damage or kill most crops. Okra is not phased by the heat and will not only survive the summer heat, but it will thrive in it. The main concern of growing okra in the summer is making sure the plant has water. The heat of the summer will evaporate water and dry soil quickly. Watch for any wilting on the leaves of the plant and water as necessary.

Popular Uses for Okra

The most popular use for Okra is in Gumbo.

GUMBO per Wikipedia:
Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and what Louisianians call the “Holy Trinity” of vegetables, namely celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used, the vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either a word from a Bantu language for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo).

Other popular uses for Okra are:

Conclusion
A southern staple in the kitchen, Okra is also a staple in many Zone 9 gardens. It is hardy, produces high yields and can be a perennial producer if protected from frost. Okra, is an all around GREAT summer crop for any Zone 9 garden.