New for 2017, Okra (also known as Ladies Fingers on account of its shape) is one of the more unusual vegetable plants in the Rocket Gardens collection. Best grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel, it’s a great little vegetable to grow and you can make some really tasty dishes with it. It also has some interesting health claims – word has it that it has a positive effect on blood sugar control making it a “superfood” for diabetes. You can read more about that here if you’re interested.
In the Kitchen
First off, let us tell you a little bit about eating this yummy vegetable. It’s quite similar in texture to aubergines and courgettes and works really well in ratatouille-style dishes or simply chopped up and served in a tomato sauce as a side dish (Greek style). It has quite a high liquid content, with a glutinous juice that helps to thicken sauces, so try it in a vegetable or lamb curry or in an African-style stew. Delicious! You can also roast it, or stir-fry it as a side dish – be careful not to overcook it though so that it retains its nice texture without going soft and gloopy (overcooked veggies are so ’70s!)
In the Veg Patch
Okra will do better in a greenhouse or polytunnel where it gets the extra warmth and plenty of light. If you don’t have this luxury, a sunny and sheltered patio would work well instead. You can grow it in pots quite happily, or grow bags. Once planted, be sure to water regularly (once or twice a day) as Okra likes moist, humid conditions. As flowers start to form, give them a liquid feed every fortnight.
Pests to Watch Out For
Keep an eye out for aphids and whitefly. It’s a good idea to plant some companion plants (eg. tagates) alongside your okra plants to help keep aphids and whitefly under control.
Depending when you plant it, you should be harvesting your okra between July and October. Cut the pods off with a knife when they are between 5-10cm long (any longer and the okra starts to get a bit tough.) Make sure you harvest them regularly and you’ll keep getting more and more until the end of the season.