Growing Okra, also Ladyfinger, gumbo

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24 Jul 23 MichelleS (USA - Zone 8b climate)
I live in the south and can grow okra ok but every time I have it got attacked heavy by ants and possibly aphids (the ants may have been farming the aphids?) either way any time my okra would get to flowering the next morning the flower of small okra would be gone. I gave up trying. I put DE on them and that did nothing to deter the ants! I must have a special kind of ants here. Should I even bother trying to grow them?
02 Sep 23 Beavis McScroggins (USA - Zone 7a climate)
The ants actually choose to protect and farm either the okra or the aphids. Both produce sugar that feed the ants. The okra will produce small lesion like bumps that will feed the ants. The aphid leave a sugary waste. I got lucky and my ants killed the aphids. One of my okra plants is completely covered by the ants. I think I put it right above the main nest. I have harvested pods of it, and they are fine. I leave most of the it for the ants on this one. The other only has relatively few ants, and we have been eating/freezing them all summer. I found it kind of fascinating when I first saw/read about it.
08 Jul 24 MichelleS (USA - Zone 9a climate)
As a follow up: I found that if I plant okra several places throughout my garden (not all in one spot) and blast the ants or aphids off with water I’ve been able to grow several varieties of okra successfully this year. Very exciting! I just thought I’d pass on the info in case it helps anyone else with this problem. The aphids and ants don’t come back as soon as I thought they would and it’s worked very well for my cowpeas as well which were also covered in ants and aphids. Spraying them off with water in time saved my plants! No insecticide or BT needed.
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