Got my Clemson Spineless okra seed before the soil was warm. When I decided to plant the seed I had some cheapo garden soil from Home Depot and decided to plant a few in 3.25 gallon black pots. They started out slow and then started to grow and flower a little. The problem I had was the constant need for supplemental water unlike the needs that they had when planted in my gardens. I then moved the pots over to the edge of my yard so I could keep the grass mowed around them. They continued to demand water constantly but they were growing. Fast forward a little and they are growing well and are at about 6’. I typically want okra to grow a little slower but they have given me a constant supply of okra to cut (only three pots). Somewhere along the line as they increased in size the demand for extra water decreased. Yesterday I decided to moved the pots again. Mystery solved, they have firmly run the roots deep into the soil below the pots. If you have never planted okra in a pot you might want to give it a try but don’t expect to move them around when they get larger. Open to suggestions for a great okra variety that has good pods like Clemson but grows a little slower. I really don’t want to use a ladder to cut okra.
Placing pots on soil benefits many species of plants. I grow a lot of parsley in pots to reduce rootworm infestations, and no matter how big the pot, roots will soon colonize the soil below- I’m sure there is also a good amount of mychorizal transit that goes much further. Soil beats fake soil in many ways and potting soil combined with real soil is often the best of both worlds.
In my nursery, I always let roots grow out of pots even though this is considered taboo in the industry. I find it reduces root circling in the pots and slashes water needs and also helps to establish trees in new soil because they end up being half potted trees and half bare roots if they are in the pots more than one season. I try to move or sell these trees when dormant for best results and best results are very good.
Do you end up needing to cut the pots off or are you usually able to remove them carefully?
If the trees are in the pots only one season (I transplant them from in-ground rootmaker bags, so the potted trees are in real soil surrounded with potting soil for drainage) I can pull the bare roots that have grown out of the pots free without cutting the pots, if I don’t sell the trees after one growing season in pots I may have to only cut the pots slightly and they can be reused, but at least half the time, with these trees, I have to destroy the pots to free the roots. I use pots with plastic that cuts easily these days. I hate to waste them, but mostly for eco reasons. What I charge for bearing age trees makes cost of pots relatively minor compared to labor. The profit margin is certainly adequate although small nurserymen never get rich (unless, maybe, they marry money).
This is an invaluable trade secret I provide freely- much better than balled and burlap methods, IMO, especially for a low equipment operation on steep terrain. I’m 65, so not too worried I’ll be put out of business by nurserymen who use my methods and undercut me.
Our growing season is long but I’m not sure starting over at this time of the year would be worth the effort. I should have panted a few more about a month ago. I think I messed up fertilizing them about three time when they were smaller. There is actually four pots but I think I will go with 6-8 next year assuming they continue doing well this year. Several plants struggle in our area but okra, sweet potatoes, and muscadines thrive here with very little effort.