Light requirements: Full sun for best yields.
Planting: Space 10 to 18 inches apart, depending on type.
Soil requirements: Okra needs well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with 3 to 5 inches of compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.5 to 7.0.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist as plants establish. Established plants benefit from 1 inch of water per week, but withstand mild drought. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation, but wait until soil has warmed before covering it.
Frost-fighting plan: Okra is damaged by light frost (28º F to 32º F). In northernmost regions, if a surprise late spring frost comes into the forecast, protect seedlings with a frost blanket.
Common issues: Curved or bent pods are caused by sucking insects feeding on developing pods. Pods are still edible. Pests to watch out for included flea beetles, Japanese beetles, stink bugs, aphids, corn earworms, fire ants, and root knot nematodes. When cool conditions prevail, okra can develop verticillium or fusarium wilt.
Harvesting: Pick pods when they’re 2 to 4 inches long. They grow fast, so harvest frequently. Use a knife or scissors to snip pod stems, leaving a bit of stem attached to each pod. Pods ripen first at the bottom of plants. Wear gloves and long sleeves until you know if you react to the spines on plants. Pods that are tough to cut are too tough to eat.
Storage: Refrigerate okra pods with stems attached in a paper bag or wrap in a dry paper towel and tuck into a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag. Use within 2 to 3 days.