When okra is 4 inches tall, mulch to keep out weeds and conserve moisture. Water during dry spells. Every 3 to 4 weeks, side-dress with compost or feed with compost tea. Read about making compost tea. In areas with long, hot summers, cut the plants back almost to ground level in midsummer and fertilize to produce a second crop.
Okra seldom succumbs to pests or diseases. Hand pick any stinkbugs that appear; these light green, shield-shaped bugs cause misshapen pods. To control corn earworms, cabbage loopers, aphids, or flea beetles, go to the Top Ten Garden Insect Pests. Fusarium wilt, a soilborne disease, is sometimes a problem in hot regions. If the disease causes leaves to yellow and wilt, pull and destroy affected plants. Crop rotation is the best preventive measure.
About 50 to 60 days after planting, edible pods will start to appear. They are tough when mature, so harvest daily with a sharp knife when they are no more than finger sized and when stems are still tender and easy to cut. Pick frequently and the plants will keep producing until killed by frost. Be sure to remove and compost any mature pods you might have missed earlier.
Many people find their skins are sensitive to the pods' prickly spines, so wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting, or plant a spineless variety such as 'Clemson Spineless'.
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