How to grow Bitter Gourd
Bitter Gourd : Generic info
Know about your veggies before you started to grow them. Bitter gourd are natives of India and China. Bitter Gourd are also known as Bitter Melon, Bitter Squash, Karela , Balsam-Pear and some other regional names.
Bitter gourd is one of the easiest veggie to grow in home garden or terrace garden and it has lot of health benefits as well.
There are different kinds of Bitter gourds,
1) Green Coloured - Found and being cultivated in India and China
2) White Coloured - Found and being cultivated in Taiwan.
A Perennial in tropical climate, Bitter gourd can be grown as an annual in certain areas where there is mild warm always. In India, it can be grown as annual plant. The plant grows 6 to 10 feet tall when trellis or other supports provided to climb on. like other melons, it can't be grown on ground , Bitter melon needs trellis to grow upward direction. Both Male and Female flowers bloom on same plant and need insects for pollination. if it is insect free zone, hand pollination can be done to enjoy the benefits of fruit.
Chinese and Indian gourds have the same hardiness, cultural requirements and bitter flavour (especially to those not familiar with the bitter melon taste). The only real difference is the appearance of the fruit
- Home Gardening : Germination of seeds
Paper-Towel method to speed up the seed germination process
Tips : Pit Preparation
- Select an area where you can erect a trellis to support the plant, which also receives full sun light.
- Mark 2 feet x 2 feet area and clean all vegetation
- Dig a pit of about one foot in depth. Keep the soil separately
- Mix compost with this soil and refill the pit
Grow Bitter Gourd
As said above, Bitter gourd can be grown throughout the year in warm temperature. If you are living in cold temperature regions, start to sow your bitter gourd seed in early spring. Bitter gourd can be grown very easily in home garden with necessary care. Bitter gourd can be grown either in pots or in back yard garden.
A step by step process:
1) Collect your seed :
- Either collect your seeds from ripen fruit or buy the seeds from nursery or online stores.
- If you are planning to collect seeds from fruits of your own( or one purchased from grocery shop). Allow fruits to ripe fully, the fully ripen fruit will be in orange colour.
- If you wish to store the seeds for next season, press the seeds taken from fully ripen fruit in cow dung and kept in sunny place for a day. Cow dung acts as a natural protector and will not allow any pest to damage the seeds.
2) Pit or Pot preparation:
- Prepare the Pit/pot accordingly
- If you decided to grow the plant in Pit, you can do it as follows 1) Either you can plant the seed directly in Pit or 2) plant the seed in seedling tray( transplant to pit after germination).
- If you decided to grow in terrace, take medium pot and pl.ant the seed directly in pot ( else use seedling tray and transplant to pot after germination)
- Pit /Pot preparation should be done carefully as it the growing medium for the plant. prepare the pit/pot with soil/potting mixture and compost.
3) Careful observation:
- Water the seed until the top layer of the soil is moist , do not over water.
- wait for couple of weeks to see the sprouts coming upward.
- once you see the sprouts, water if necessary( moist condition) and keep at sunlight at least for 6 hours
- Secondary branches of the plant may grow only after 4-5 weeks.
- If the plant reaches 2 - 3 inch and you used seedling tray, its time to transplant your little plant to pit or pot( as per your choice).
- Take equal amount of onion, Garlic, Ginger and chilli
- Make a paste using all those things
- Dilute it with water
- Spray on foliage
Care for the young plant
care for the young plant:
- If you transplanted your young plant to pit or pot, you need to provide good support to your young plant to grow upward direction until it reaches the height of trellis.
- You can provide support with any wooden stalk or any plastic stick.
Pruning and Training:
Pruning and training the vine over the trellis is very important to get maximum yield from the plant.
Allow the plant to grow without any laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes above the top of the trellis
- Now prune the main stem
- Lightly tie the stem with the trellis wire using a string. I have used the fiber from the banana stem for this
- You may find laterals growing from the nodes. Do not allow any laterals below the trellis
- Count each lateral to 12 nodes and prune the rest. Remove all tendrils also
- Train the vine over the trellis system by tying the laterals with a string.
There are different views as to pruning the laterals after how many nodes. Some people suggest to prune after 5 nodes. But in my experience, I have noticed that the nodes between fourth and tenth produce good quality fruits, so I prune the shoots after every 12th node.
Water accordingly, over watering and under watering may kill the plant. Use organic fertilizer if necessary( once in three week - very diluted solution).
Protect your plant from insects or pests:
- Normally Bitter gourds will not attack by any pests. If the plants are attacked by pests, use home made pesticides and spray on foliage.
- If your plants are surrounded by fruit flies, then protect your young fruit from fruit flies by wrapping the fruit by using plastic bag.
Harvest the fruit:
- Harvest the fruit at the correct time before fruit turns to orange colour(ripen fruit).
- If you planned to collect the seeds for next season, then allow the fruit to ripen in the plant (turns orange colour). Then collect the seeds and store it in cool place.
Bitter Gourd Juice
Nutritional value of Bitter Gourd
Vitamin A & C
471 IU & 84mg