Okra (Ladies finger), Abelmoschus esculentus, is an herbaceous annual plant in the family Malvaceae which is grown for its edible seed pods. Okra plants have small erect stems that can be bristly or hairless with heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long with 5–7 lobes The plant produces flowers with five white to yellow petals which are 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) in diameter. The seed pod is a capsule up to 25 cm (10 in) long, containing numerous seeds. Ladies finger can grow 1.2–1.8 m (4–6 ft) tall and as an annual plant, survives only one growing season. Ladies finger may also be referred to as lady’s fingers and is believed to have originated in Ethiopia.
Scientific Name: Abelmoschus esculentus
Common Name: Ladies finger , Okra (English), Bhindi (Hindi), Belendri (Manipuri), V endaikkaai (T amil), Bendakaya in (T elugu), V endakka (Malayalam), Bende kaayi (Kannada), Bhinda/Bhunda (Gujarati), Dherasa (Bengali), Bindu (Kashmiri), Bhendi (Marathi, Oriya).
How to grow and maintain okra (Ladies finger):
You will want to add lots of compost and as it is quite fast growing and productive, it likes some form of fertilizer. I use a 10-10-10 in the garden as well as any organic one I can lay my hands on. My Okra thrives on a seaweed and marine compost. Ladies finger likes well drained soil with a mostly neutral range of PH. and lots of organic matter.
Ladies finger requires long warm growing season during its growing period. It gives good yield in warm humid condition. It grows best within a temperature range of 22-35°C. It can be successfully grown in rainy season even in heavy rainfall area. Bhendi is highly susceptible to frost injury . Seeds fail to germinate when temperature is below 20 °C.
Ladies finger likes a regular watering and 1 inch per week is recommended but it is wonderfully drought resistant and will still do well with reduced water.
Pests and Problems:
Okra’s main enemy is cold. It will be sluggish and may wilt if conditions are too cold. Okra are fairly tough but some pests can affect them. One pest that affects many plants including Okra is root knot nematodes.
Ladies finger reaches maturity in 50 to 65 days. The plants can produce for ten to 12 weeks. It grows and bears seed pods until frost, which quickly turns them black and kills them. Start harvesting a few days after the okra blooms fade. At that point the seed pods should be soft and two to three inches long. Pick the pods at least every other day, as they quickly turn from tender to tough the bigger they grow. Handle okra gently. The pods bruise easily. Remove old seed pods so they do not inhibit new pods from developing. For maximum yield, prune older limbs beneath the already harvested pods. All okra varieties have spines, so wear gloves when picking the pods. The spineless varieties have fewer spines on the pods themselves, but spines on other parts of the plant make wearing gloves and long sleeves a good idea.
Do not wash okra (Ladies finger). Wet pods become slimy and mold quickly. Refrigerate dry okra in perforated plastic bags. Use within a few days before the pods’ ridges and tips start to turn dark. Because of the long growing season and hearty production, four or five plants usually produce enough okra for most families. More plants may be needed, though, to can or freeze okra for use during the winter. While old seed pods cannot be eaten, they are perfect for dried flower arrangements.