Okra Companion Crops: Mates to your pods

Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, is one of the hardest plants in the mallow family. It is believed to originate from Africa and Asia, but today it is grown in the United States, especially in temperate zones and mild seasons. But did you know that there are great companion okra plants that will enhance your gardening endeavors?

Growing okra plants isn't difficult when you have full sun and good soil in your garden. You need a lot of space for good vegetable production. Each okra plant needs at least two feet between it and the next one. And because they're big, they create patches of shadow. Any full sun need in your garden should be south of your okra crop.

The associated flowers of an okra plant are striking in color and radiate such a beautiful aroma that it was historically used as the basis for perfumes. Plant some seeds and in a few months tall stems will tower up to 6 or 7 feet above you and the rest of your garden. Okra is defensive and releases spines when it is harvested into the hands of gardeners. The spines are much smaller than the cactus spines and can irritate the skin. Even so, it's worth the effort and slight pain here and there to consume okra.

If you've ever seen a row or two of okra grow in summer, you know they can withstand the intense heat of even the deep south. But it also thrives in mild climates. In terms of nutrition, okra is a great source of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. It is also rich in vitamins and nutrients. Be sure to harvest the pods at the right time. Overripe pods are often too fibrous to eat.

If you are growing okra and want to give the soil a healthy system to reproduce, try companion plants! Okra are large and can provide shade for deeper greenery that covers the ground as they grow in your yard. Before we talk about which okra companions are best to use, let's dig into the basics of planting companions.

What is companion planting?

Choosing the right okra companion plants can help keep pests at bay. Source: Joi

Companion Planting is an organic gardening practice that involves sowing seeds or planting different fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs side by side to support each other. The best known of all accompanying planting practices is Three Sisters. In this cultivation method, which has its origins in tribal cultures, pumpkin, beans and corn are sown together. When the three grow from seed they provide a two-way system that supports each in a beneficial feedback loop.

In the three sister method, corn is one of those tall plants that provide shade for the pumpkin to cover the ground. Okra can stand for corn and give the beans a stalk to climb and grow. The bean vines provide nitrogen to all three, which aids in the development of healthy roots, and the taste of each plant is enhanced. The bean vine also keeps pests away from pumpkin plants, and the pumpkin also protects corn stalks or okra from pests and weeds.

Three sisters are just one example of companion planting. In general, companions are good neighbors who can repel insect pests in a process called trapping. Pests end up in the trap harvest, like pepper plants or tomatoes, instead of enjoying the okra. Few companions can attract useful insects to solve pest problems. Inviting lacewings gives lacewing nymphs smaller pests like aphids to hunt.

Some plants can improve the taste of others or help them grow by fixing nitrogen. For example, beans are nitrogen fixers and can help meet the nitrogen needs of leafy vegetables. Low-lying plants can act as ground cover and reduce weeds that struggle for nutrients. Taller plants like okra provide dotted sun to other plants when needed. Fast growing plants can be used as row markers for slow germinating varieties so you don't accidentally double plant an area. This is particularly useful if you are working in a high production environment.

What does okra do in the soil and what are the best companion plants for okra?

Good companion okra plants

Okra flowerPlants that attract pollinators can help the okra flower become future fruits. Source: cplbasilisk

While an okra plant can be a little prickly to human hands, it makes a great companion for many others. Most of your common products do well for okra. But which are the best? Gardening with okra companions will give your garden a big boost and will give you an opportunity to get some tips on how all of these systems work together.

How many aromatic herbs basil is one of the best companion plants for okra. Basil repels dreaded spider mites, flea beetles, and whitefly because compounds in basil leaves are toxic to smaller pests. An added bonus to planting basil in your okra is that it repels mosquitoes as well. The last thing anyone wants to do while harvesting okra is pay nature's taxes in the form of many bites! To include basil in your okra plants, plant ripeness begins at the base of the okra stems about 6 inches apart.

Another great herb for okra is corianderthat attract hoverflies that hunt aphids. Coriander also repels Colorado beetles. To garden with cilantro, tuck it under ground cover. It doesn't take a lot of sun to function well, and it can be planted early in the growing season when the weather is cooler. Coriander is a good gardener and a good companion for many species.

Onions and garlic are also beneficial for okra as a pesticide. Like basil, onion and garlic greens keep insect pests like scarab beetles and aphids away. They also deter rabbits who prefer a lighter taste than the strong flavors of green onions or garlic. Onions and garlic help break up the soil and help the okra roots find water and nutrients.

Everyone knows that there are several benefits to planting flowers in your garden. Pollination is crucial in both flowering plants and in organic horticulture. plant sunflowers Along the boundary of your okra garden, you will attract key pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, which will move from sunflowers to your okra. This is just one example of companions that are great at attracting pollinators. Zinnias are also loved by bees as they are calendar. Nasturtiums are also great for deterring insect pests. And okra is a good companion for more delicate flowers.

Like ground cover Melons and cucumber are great for preventing weeds from growing that can remove nutrients from your okra. Okra grows large and provides shade for cucurbits that prefer the spotted sun. Planting cucumber and melon plants will add an extra layer of pollinating power to your garden as okra flowers grow before fruit produce. Since these plants are spreaders, it is best to plant melon or cucumber two to three feet between the plants. Give them a large berth to work with.

salad, spinach, and Peas are all fast-producing plants that can be harvested while your okra is still ripening. For the same reason that pumpkins like to be in the garden with lanky plants, lettuce, spinach, and peas like to live under an okra plant and enjoy the shade it provides. Peas in particular enjoy cooler weather. So plant them with okra in the early stages, before the pods are sufficiently ripened for harvest. When their life cycle ends for the season, cut off the greens and let the rotting substance fertilize your plant growth.

Lettuce does not have an extensive underground system because its roots are not that deep. So that they do not displace other companions that you plant with your okra. Feel free to plant them around most of your other companions. Know that salads and vegetables need additional water for crispness and flavor, so gardening with them in this area requires extra care.

Paprika like paprika or Jalapenos are great vegetables for okra. Not only does paprika reduce pests like cabbage worms around companions, but okra is also large enough to protect the more fragile pepper plant from high winds. Bell peppers can be planted between okra plants in spring or summer (depending on how hot it gets where you live). Any type of pepper will do as long as the timing is right.

aubergine and tomato are other summer plants that you can plant with your okra. When you are planted with sunflowers, expect an extra boost as sunflowers like to share the soil with both plants. Eggplants love shade and are smaller than tomatoes, for example. Eggplants also increase the potassium levels in the soil, which okra loves. When you water your eggplant, it releases nutrients to the soil that the okra plants fertilize. Both are great for deterring stink bugs and providing trap fruit.

Like other cooler weather fruits radish tend to enjoy the benefits of proximity to a crop of okra. Okra also appreciates the way radish breaks up the soil so roots can grow when they look for water in the soil. Radishes are great year-round growers that will survive on most soils and last long after they are harvested. They're a vegetable worth trying if you've never grown them!

What not to plant with okra

Sweet potatoesSweet potatoes can be risky around okra. Source: Liralen Li

By and large, plant okra and grow okra with any good companion. It's very kind to others in the garden and there aren't many "don'ts" when it comes to planting with okra. There are a few rules of thumb, however.

Squash (both Winter pumpkin and Summer squash) and Sweet potatoes can increase the number of pest nematodes in your garden. So, if you plan to garden in a bed where these vegetables and fruits grew, wait at least four seasons before planting okra or seeds. Before planting okra, grow other crops that will reduce the number of nematodes in your garden. Marigolds are great choices. Covering crops like rye or oats after the marigold harvest will give the nematodes one final blow.

Root-knot nematodes love the same conditions as okra plants: full sun and hot weather. They can reproduce under the same conditions and make it so that nutrient uptake becomes more difficult for okra plants, which not only reduces the plant's nutrient crop but also makes harvesting difficult or impossible.

frequently asked Questions

Marigolds Marigolds are wonderful companions for okra. Source: E. Strathmeyer

Q: Can I plant marigolds with okra?

A: Yes! In fact, marigolds help deter harmful nematodes that can block nutrient uptake in your okra crop. Okra and marigolds love each other. Give them plenty of sun and space. Marigolds take up about 10 inches of space between plants. Okra takes up a lot more space between itself and other okra plants, but it can have smaller plants between them.

Q: Can you plant cucumber and okra together?

A: Cucumbers and melons are two of the most popular companions to okra. Cucumbers provide a ground cover for okra that prevents weed growth and directs nutrient levels in okra stalks. They can also act as a spontaneous trap for pests that would otherwise feed on okra leaves.

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