Agriculture - - Versatile Veggie - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

HEALTH-CON­SCIOUS IN­DI­VID­U­ALS have started to in­clude okra in their diet due to its high fiber con­tent, plus, it also con­tains es­sen­tial vi­ta­mins like B and C, potas­sium, folic acid, and cal­cium.

Even its seeds are edi­ble. In fact, a lo­cal farmer at a re­mote barangay in the prov­ince of Que­zon is al­ready pro­cess­ing okra seeds into cof­fee.

Since it can sup­ply our re­quire­ments for di­etary fiber, okra is said to help pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion and keeps waste mov­ing ef­fi­ciently through­out our di­ges­tive tract.

Among the meth­ods that is be­com­ing pop­u­lar with the health-con­scious is drink­ing “okra wa­ter” where sev­eral okra pods are soaked overnight in wa­ter, which was re­ported to help al­le­vi­ate the symp­toms of di­a­betes.

While more peo­ple are be­com­ing aware of the health ben­e­fits of okra, or known in other coun­tries as “lady’s fin­ger,” it would be nice if we could cul­ti­vate the crop in our back­yard gar­dens or even in our farms.

Af­ter all, okra is one of the eas­i­est crops to cul­ti­vate, ac­cord­ing to Al­lied Botan­i­cal Cor­po­ra­tion (ABC) Re­gion 4-B re­gional sales man­ager Rudy Dean.

To pro­duce bet­ter pods, Dean says that the use of Con­dor qual­ity seeds is sug­gested, the Camil­ing smooth va­ri­ety in par­tic­u­lar.

He says the va­ri­ety is “flaw­less,” mean­ing the pods will have no hairy spines and can be grown all year-round.

Aside from be­ing pro­lific, he says, the va­ri­ety has a long pro­duc­tive life, the plants are vig­or­ous, and have a very good tol­er­ance to dif­fer­ent pests and dis­eases.

“You could har­vest al­most dou­ble by us­ing the va­ri­ety,” Dean pointed out.

To help those who are in­ter­ested to cul­ti­vate the va­ri­ety in their back­yard gar­dens or farms, Dean of­fered his ex­per­tise on how to cul­ti­vate our own okra plants in a very easy and step-by-step guide.

For di­rect seed­ing, Dean ad­vised us to use just one seed per hole in our plots, and the dis­tance per hole should be 50 cen­time­ters (cm) or half a me­ter.

While the dis­tance be­tween plots should be one-and-a-half me­ter to two me­ters to pro­vide ease for main­te­nance and har­vest­ing.

Af­ter sow­ing the seeds, we should pro­vide about half-liter of wa­ter for each hole.

The suc­ceed­ing wa­ter­ing fre­quency should be af­ter two or three days later.

Af­ter 15 days, Dean ad­vised the use com­plete fer­til­izer. This should be re­peated af­ter 35 days.

Later on, main­tain the plants by us­ing fo­liar fer­til­iz­ers like the Peters Pro­fes­sional Wa­ter sol­u­ble fer­til­izer (9-45-15) blos­som booster.

He ex­plained that it is a com­pletely wa­ter-sol­u­ble fo­liar fer­til­izer which is es­pe­cially for­mu­lated with M77 and chelated trace el­e­ments for max­i­mum nu­tri­ent ab­sorp­tion.

This is par­tic­u­larly best dur­ing the plant’s re­pro­duc­tive stage.

To make the plants more pro­lific, Dean also ad­vised us to use Peters Yield Booster (15-10-30).

To help make the color of the fruits more at­trac­tive and to help the plants to pro­duce big­ger fruits, the use of Nutri­bella Su­per Yield (15-15-30) is rec­om­mended.

Some 35 days af­ter sow­ing, the first bloom will usu­ally come out, then the fruit­ing pe­riod fol­lows.

The fruits can then be har­vested af­ter 10 to 12 days, where the ideal size of the fruit should be about five to six inches.

Suc­ceed­ing har­vest of the fruits can be done ev­ery two days, he ex­plained.

Health-con­scious in­di­vid­u­als have started to in­clude okra in their diet due to its high fiber con­tent.

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