Category Archives: Hardiness Zones

Planting Okra

Okra SeedsOne of the big problems with living in Pinellas County is that we aren’t sure what climate zone we live in. Most climate or hardiness zone maps show the Tampa Bay area as being at the north edge of zone 10 (or 10a). Unfortunately our weather is sometimes zone ten (South Florida) and sometimes zone nine (Central Florida).

Okra, according to many websites, can be planted in Central Florida from March to August. In South Florida, the spring planting season is supposed to be over in April. Since this has been a cool spring (still in the low 70s at night) decided to go ahead and get some okra in – even though it might theoretically be too late.

Ready to PlantI prepared the other end of the garden bed much as I did for the sweet potatoes. I used a four-tine cultivator, a garden rake, and my hands to get out most of the weeds and their deep roots. Then I did the trench/water/mix procedure until I had some dampness incorporated into the soil. In contrast to the way I handled the sweet potatoes I decided to add quite a bit of worm castings along the length of the row. as you can see, I added my cardboard mulch.

The seed packet indicated a spacing of 18 to 24 inches – so I spaced the first plant 2 feet from the nearest sweet potato seedling and used 18 inches for the rest. With my handy Swiss Army knife I cut out squares at the proper spacing. This time I left each cardboard sqare attached along one edge – a hinge. Since I’m planting seeds and not seedlings I want to retain as much water as possible in each spot.

VermiculiteI mixed some vermiculite (I always have some around) with water – making it pretty soggy. Each hole got a handful to act as “potting soil.” Seeds and brand-new sprouts don’t need any fertilizer – it can harm them. The vermiculite will insulate the seedlings from the worm castings until they grow their roots down far enough.

In each of the holes I placed three seeds – I’ll thin them once they’re up. I pushed them down a quarter inch deep – though the packet said they should be planted 4 inches deep! I suspect a typo.

Once the seeds were planted and covered in wet vermiculite I closed the individual covers to keep things nice and moist . I’ll pop them open in a couple of days to see if the sprouts are breaking through.

With much prayer,

Rick