Okra, also known as gumbo, is a warm-weather vegetable that thrives in the long, hot summers of the southern United States. Although okra loves hot weather, it can successfully be grown in cooler Northern climates as well. Plant okra seeds directly in your garden seven to 10 days after the last expected frost in your area, as the seeds won't grow in cold weather. Okra will be ready to harvest approximately 60 days after planting.

Okra seeds should be planted directly in the garden after the weather warms in spring.

Step 1

Spade the soil in a sunny area in your garden. Work the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches, then work in an all-purpose granular fertilizer with a ratio such as 10-10-10. Apply 1 to 2 lbs. of fertilizer for every 100 square feet of garden space.

Step 2

Make shallow rows with the corner of your hoe. Allow 3 feet between each row. Plant the okra seeds 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows, then cover the seeds with 1 inch of soil. Water lightly with a hose and spray attachment.

Step 3

Thin the okra seedlings when the plants are 2 to 4 inches tall. Allow 12 to 18 inches between each plant.

Step 4

Water okra deeply enough to saturate the soil once every seven to 10 days during extended hot, dry periods. Otherwise, okra requires no irrigation.

Step 5

Harvest okra with kitchen shears or a sharp knife when the pods are 2 to 4 inches long. Okra ripens quickly in late summer so check the plants every two to three days. Handle the pods gently as okra is tender and bruises easily. Pick regularly, as the plant will go to seed and won't continue to produce if the pods are allowed to remain on the plant.