The name of this plant is such due to its bitter taste of the fruit. Though many people found this very disgusting, many people around the world like this plant for its unique flavor. Below are some of the important facts about growing Bitter Gourd:
Soil: Though it can grow in any type of soil from sandy loam to clay loam, a fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal. Add a bit of compost at the time of soil preparation to feed the plant. Once the plant starts bearing flowers you need to add fertilizers to tackle its voracious appetite. Bone meal, blood meal or some fish emulsion can be very good choices for this.
Environment: It is a plant of the humid weather condition, with daytime temperature ranging between 70 to 80 degree F. 6 hours of direct sunlight is very much necessary for the optimum growth of the fruit.
Planting: Sow 1 or 2 seeds at 2 cm depth. Though you can also use trays to germinate them, they generally don’t transplant very well. They are very fast growing vines. So give them something to climb on to. It is best to plant them near the fence.
Bitter gourd requires lots of water. Regularly water the plant and you will get flowering very soon (within 5-6 weeks). As a matter of fact with some of the varieties, you can get mature fruits within 3 months of planting.
Care: Little bit of pruning in the form of removing the growing tip of some lateral branches is required. Doing so will stimulate the higher branches and will produce a higher yield.
Fruits are susceptible to various rots. One of the main ways to reduce the problem is to use a trellis. Trellis the veins, and it will definitely reduce the rotting problem. You will get hanging fruits and harvesting would be much easier. In case you are not using them, cover the soil with a mulch of dry leaves to protect the fruits from getting moist.
Harvesting: Bitter gourd is a member of the Cucurbita family and like all other members of the family it also bears male and female flowers. It is the male one which blooms first, followed by the female ones. The degree of bitterness varies as per the maturity of the fruit. Smaller and immature fruits are more bitter than the matured ones. Harvest them when they are 4 to 6 inches long and are green.
The degree of bitterness varies as per the maturity of the fruit. Smaller and immature fruits are more bitter than the matured ones. Harvest them when they are 4 to 6 inches long and are green. You have to pick the fruit when they are still green and firm. Fruits which become spongy or yellow are over ripen.
Store them in a plastic bag inside a refrigerator. For more tips on storing of vegetables use this link.
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