Introduction Bitter gourd seed germination Process
Bitter gourd is also known as Karela or Bitter melon. Bitter gourd is a unique vegetable that can is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. This oblong-shaped vine variety showcases a warty exterior with its size, texture and also has a bitter taste. In this article we also discussed below topics;
- How do you germinate Bitter gourd seeds
- Bitter gourd seed germination temperature
- How do you germinate Bitter gourd seeds
- How long does Bitter gourd seed take to germinate
- Process for germinating Bitter gourd seeds
- Bitter gourd seed germination period
- Paper towel germination method for growing Bitter gourd
A step by step guide to Bitter gourd seed germination
Bitter gourd is popularly known is a vegetable that is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Bitter gourd is a climber plant, and hence you want to have trellis arrangement for it to grow. Though, the plant and fruits are quite light in weight and hence can be grown on any kind of trellis system. The Bitter gourd plant quickly germinates from seeds and then fruits practically all year round. Some important varieties of Bitter melon to try are;
- Jyunpaku’ Okinawan Pure White
- Big Top
- White Pearl
- Number One
Choose a suitable position for growing Bitter gourd
Provide full sun to this vine, and then it will produce heavily. Also, as it is a tall vine, you will want to support it. A tall trellis or a garden fence. If you want to grow Bitter gourd on your patio, terrace or balcony grow it near the wall so that it can go up along with it. Plant Bitter gourd where it receives at least 6 hours of sunshine.
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The best soil for Growing Bitter gourd
It tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers permeable, sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter. It grows slightly acidic to the slightly alkaline soil. The pH level of around 5.5 to 6.7 is ideal. Soil should be fertile, but well-drained, with a pH level of 5.5 to 6.7. Adding composted manure or compost to enrich soil results in good plant yields.
Gathering Bitter melon seeds
Bitter melon or Bitter gourd seeds germinate best when sown very fresh. Fortunately, there is no mistaking when bitter melon seeds are ready for the sowing process because the fruit dries out, splits open and reveals the shiny, crimson seeds against a golden yellow background. Wear gloves when gathering and handling the Bitter melon seeds or fruit because they are toxic if ingested.
The Spacing of Bitter gourd seeds
Soaking the Bitter gourd seeds before sowing helps them to germinate faster. Make about ½ inch deep holes in the land to sow Bitter gourd seeds. Then, space them 10 cm apart to ensure the creepers won’t eat into each other.
Bitter gourd plant propagation
Bitter gourd seeds can be purchased online or in garden shops. Also, you can use seeds you get from ripe yellow fruits. Ripe seeds have a crimson red color coat and germination is not difficult, but there are some tricks to make it faster.
Seeds will germinate slowly in 3 to 4 weeks if you directly sow them without pre-treatment, especially at low temperatures. But to increase seed germination rate and for the faster germination, you have to scarify them to remove the seed coat. For this, rub the Bitter gourd seeds from one side without doing any damage to endosperm inside the seed coat. Soaking Bitter gourd seeds for 24 hours in water before sowing will also help.
Bitter gourd seed germination time and temperature
Bitter gourd germination is usually within 7 days but can take up to 14 days. Seed germination is much better when a heating seed mat is used as the temperatures need to be at least 30°C for the bitter melon to grow. Some people nick the seed coating at the thinner end of the seed with a pair of nail clippers then sow the Bitter gourd seed to help seeds germinate faster.
Pre-wet your Bitter gourd seed starting mix with water before you start sowing seeds. Fill seed trays with the seed starting mix then sow about 1 Bitter melon seed per module with the pointed of the seed end down into the soil. Then cover the Bitter gourd seeds with more seed starting mix. Mist the top of your seed tray and water from the bottom to keep the soil in seed trays moist.
Bitter gourd germination temperature – 30-35°C Ideal
Bitter gourd seed germination time – 7-12 days.
The seed preparation for Bitter gourd seed germination
While beautiful to look at, the red coating covering Bitter gourd seeds is detrimental to germination and must be partially removed before sowing. Rubbing one side of the seed with a rasp will remove enough of the seed coat to allow the germination process while limiting damage to the seed. Once scarified, the seeds should be dunked in boiling water for no more than four seconds, and then drained on a sheet of paper towel for a few minutes before sowing.
Soak the Bitter gourd seeds
While Bitter gourd seeds can be planted straight into compost, many gardeners find better results from first soaking the Bitter gourd seeds overnight. This “kick starts” the seed germination process, allowing the seeds to immediately absorb large volumes of water. Once planted in soil, such Bitter gourd seeds tend to get off to a better start.
Seed sowing process for Bitter gourd
Bitter gourd plants put on growing rapidly, so no more than one seed should be sown in each pot to allow adequate room for the roots to spread. Fill about 5 inch deep biodegradable starter pots with potting soil, leaving the top 3/4 inch empty. Set the Bitter gourd seed in the center of the pot, and then cover it with a 1/2 inch layer of soil, gently firm it and water deeply to settle it.
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Bitter gourd seeds have a hardcover and pre-soaking the seeds overnight before sowing those help in faster germination. To decrease the germination time even further you can first germinate the seeds in a bottle before sowing them. To sow the seeds make about 1/2 inch depressions in the soil, place the seeds on their side and cover them up with loose soil. Water gently so that the soil is not disturbed to expose the seed and keep the soil moist all the time. You can plant 4 to 5 seeds in a 15-liter pot. Keep 1 to 2 plants in a 15-liter pot and remove the others when seedlings have developed at least four true leaves. Young Bitter gourd plants are sometimes susceptible to cutworms and it is a good idea to wrap the base of the plant with aluminum foil when Bitter gourd plants are young. This will make a physical barrier between the plant and the cutworms.
Plant the Bitter gourd seeds
Bitter melon seeds are best started indoors in a pot of sandy, well-drained compost. Once seeds germinate, the plants grow rapidly, so try to choose a rather more generous pot than you might for other plants or you risk having to repot them continually.
Plant the seeds about 1 cm deep in the compost. Water the pot thoroughly, while simultaneously avoiding soggy, waterlogged conditions which can stunt growth. When it comes to Bitter gourd plants, excellent drainage is vital.
Steps for Bitter gourd seed sowing in a container
- First, take a container of your choice with drainage holes at the bottom.
- Fill the container with proper potting layers and selected growing medium.
- Sow about 2 seeds at the center of a pot. On raised beds, sow two seeds per pot in a spacing of about 3 x 3 ft.
- Push the seeds a little in a soil medium with your fingers and completely cover them with the surrounding soil.
- Water the sown seedbed immediately by a light shower by using a watering can.
Bitter gourd seed germination process
High temperatures and adequate moisture hold the key to successfully germinating Bitter gourd seeds. Position the pots within about 3 feet of the west- or south-facing window where they will get direct sunlight during the day. Warm the pots to 29°C using a germination mat and keep the pots covered with a plastic wrap to hold warmth and moisture near the bitter melon seeds. The Bitter gourd seeds need constant moisture, but the soil should be allowed to dry out slightly in the top inch between watering to prevent rot and mildew. The first seedlings may emerge in just 4 days with most of the seeds germinating around day eight.
Process of growing Bitter gourd from seed
- First, find a warm sunny spot on your terrace.
- Use rich, sandy, or loamy well-drained soil. A mixture of cow dung and compost will also do wonders for the Bitter gourd plant.
- Then, you can use the Bitter gourd seeds from any ripe Bitter gourd you picked up from the vegetable market. Just make sure to use the seeds that are fully formed. You can use seeds from a previous crop, or buy them from your local nursery. If there is a red coating on the Bitter gourd seeds, remove it. If necessary, you can soak the Bitter gourd seeds overnight in water before sowing to speed up germination.
- Make holes about a half-inch deep in the soil and drop the Bitter gourd seeds into them. You can leave about 12 inches of space between 2 holes. Then, cover the holes with soil and sprinkle some water on top. Sow at least 2 seeds in a pot and use at least 2 pots for sowing the Bitter gourd seeds.
- The seeds will start to germinate within 2 to 3 days of sowing and flowers will start to appear in 5-6 weeks. The Bitter gourds will be ready for picking within 3 months from planting.
Caring for Bitter gourd plants
Here are some tips for growing Bitter gourd;
- Water your plants deeply at least once a week.
- Plant flowers that attract pollinators into a garden nearby. Bitter gourd fruit production needs pollinators like bees to pollinate the flowers.
- Cover the growing seedbed with mulch to help retain moisture.
- Give plants a boost one a month by feeding with comfrey tea or natural liquid fertilizer or add more compost around each Bitter gourd plant.
- Check your Bitter gourd plants for signs of powdery mildew, downy mildew, rust, watermelon mosaic virus, bacterial wilt, and the cucumber mosaic virus. Treat plants early if signs of these diseases are spotted. Avoid watering from overhead sprinklers, water plants close to the soil, and avoid splashing plant leaves with water.
Germinate Bitter gourd seeds in a paper towel
Here to germinate the Bitter gourd seeds, we are using the Paper towel methods or tissue paper or toilet paper method. This saves us many days, and the Bitter gourd seeds sprout within 3 to 5 days with this method.
- First, take some Bitter gourd seeds and soak them for at least 12 hours in water.
- Then put them in a tissue paper-like shown here and then spray some water over this.
- Then finally place this inside a zip lock polythene bag and keep it in a warm place like in the germination counter if you have made any or under a closed washbasin or kitchen counter.
- Then you can check after 3 to 5 days for sprouts.
- The sprouts started in 5 days and then waited for 3 more days before transplanting the sprouts into a container.
Harvesting Bitter gourd fruits
The right time to harvest your Bitter gourd is when the fruit’s skin is green with slight specks of yellow, at which point they are normally around 6 inches in length. Once fruiting begins, it can become a routine job to keep on picking, which helps to avoid the Bitter gourd plant becoming overwhelmed.
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Bitter gourd starts to fruit quickly in 2 months. Harvest Bitter gourd fruits when they are green, little pale, and unripe and about the size of 3 to 6 inches (depending more on the variety and type). Within 6 to 8 weeks after the germination, you’ll see the blossoms, and in the next 2 to 3 weeks, fruits will appear and are ready to be picked.
Save Bitter gourd seeds
- To save Bitter gourd seeds for next season, leave a few fruits on each vine to mature past when you would harvest them. Mature Bitter gourd fruits change to yellow-orange and will break open and release seeds. The seeds can be covered in a red sweet pulp which is edible.
- Collect the Bitter gourd seeds and wash them to remove the pulp residue then dry thoroughly. Store seeds in a cool, dry spot.
- Remember, if you are growing different varieties of Bitter gourd then they may cross-pollinate with each other which is great for landrace gardening. Only grow one variety if you want to save Bitter gourd seed from only that variety.
Commonly asked questions about Bitter gourd seed germination
How long does it take for bitter melon seeds to germinate?
You can also plant Bitter gourd in a container. Bitter gourd usually takes a long time to germinate almost about 10 to 15 days.
Can Bitter gourd be grown in pots?
Growing Bitter gourd in pots is easy. You’ll need about 12 inches deep pot and a sturdy trellis. However, the Bitter gourd vine can grow more than 5 m (16 feet) long.
Is Bitter gourd self-pollinating?
Bitter gourd plant is a cross-pollinated crop. Insects, particularly bees, pollinate flowers. Pollination can be a problem during the wet season because bees are less active during overcast conditions.
Why is my Bitter melon plant turning yellow?
The plant roots are not affected. In older Bitter gourd plants, leaves wilt suddenly and vascular bundles in the collar region become yellow or brown. The Bitter gourd Mosaic virus disease is mostly confined to the leaves. Symptoms are appearing on the leaves in the secondary branches produced at the apical end of the plant.
Does Bitter gourd need sun?
Bitter gourd plant thrives in late spring when the summer is just picking up. The plant should receive a minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight every day until the seeds germinate. Sow the Bitter gourd seeds near the trellis so that the plant doesn’t spread on the ground and rot.