QUESTION: Can we grow okra from fresh seeds? What do I need to do? Does the seed need to be dried? -Kevin B.
ANSWER: Yes, fresh okra seeds can be used to grow new okra plants. However, there is a little bit of preparation required to grow okra successfully. Place your okra seeds into the freezer and allow them to cool overnight. This will help to break the seed coat. As okra plants have a taproot which will not allow for easy transplanting, it is best to germinate seeds directly in the ground, or to use peat pods, which can be transplanted into the ground with the seedlings.
Peat pods are starter pods that are already filled with soil, making them perfect for beginner gardeners. Push the seeds down about a half inch into the soil and water them until the soil is moist, but not soggy. Plant two seeds into each pot. There is no need to cover the pots to germinate okra seeds. Water pods once per week about one inch deep.
Pick a location in the garden that receives a lot of sun, keeping the soil temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees F. Test the soil with a soil test kit. Okra plants prefer a soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. If necessary, make some amendments to the soil before planting to get the pH level into okra’s sweet spot.
Once the seedlings have sprouted, dig a hole the size of the peat pot for every okra plant that you are growing and set the peat pots into the holes, packing the soil back in around the peat pot. Okra should be planted nine to 12 inches apart in rows spread three to six feet apart. If two okra plants sprouted in your peat pot, thin down to one by just pinching the plant off by hand. Water the soil to a depth of six inches just after transplanting the pods into their new homes.