Behold the pitiful state of our okra seedlings:
It looks like just about all of these germinated, but then all but one (maybe two...we'll see) failed to take root. This could have something to do with the extra-cool temps in our house while we were on vacation. We adjusted our thermostat way down while we were gone, and okra likes it hot.
But I'm thinking a more likely culprit is the new seed starter cups we used. In general, these are pretty cool. They are little discs of coir wrapped in biodegradable paper that plump up when you add water. Each one has a little indentation in the top to place a seed, and once in a watering tray, they just soak up water and stay good and damp. These worked really well for our tomatoes and peppers, especially since you can just plant them, mini-pot and all into a bigger pot when they get too big. Those nightshade plants will grow extra roots up their stems, and they'll poke through the paper with no trouble.
But for okra, I feel like the little indentation for the seed was just not big enough. Okra seeds are pretty big, and when these sprouted, a lot of roots look like they were left stranded, unable to poke back down in the dirt as the leaf popped up.
So I ordered a new pack of seeds and started over yesterday. And back to a regular old cell-type starter:
Since okra is such a heat lover, I don't think we've lost much valuable growing time. They'll still go out mid to late June, even if they are a little smaller.
Since we had a cold frame freed up (our salad veggies are all well-started and no longer in need of the protection now that the weather has finally warmed), I decided to also give a try to starting some okra directly outside, but under protection. During the afternoon, temps in the cold frame should be a toasty 80 or 90 degrees, which is just right for okra. Maybe we'll get a jump on our harvest in this section if this works. Another experiment!