Growing Ash Gourd Indoors (Winter Melon) – a Full Guide

Introduction of growing Ash Gourd indoors

The scientific name of Ash gourd is Benincasa hispida and it comes from the gourds family Cucurbitaceae of the plant kingdom Plantae. Ash gourd is a very popular vegetable in India and grown throughout the country. This melon is mostly consumed in India and China, while Indians give more importance to this vegetable because of its medicinal properties in the Ayurvedic medicine system.

A step by step guide to Growing Ash Gourd indoors/containers

Growing Ash gourds indoors is easy but a little bit time is taken. Ash gourd is highly nutritive and loaded with Vitamins A and C. It helps in fighting and preventing various ailments. By consuming Ash gourd, you could fulfill the calcium, phosphorus, iron, and fiber requirements of your body. Ash gourd is also known as winter melon. People assume winter melons grow in winter which is not true. It cannot tolerate frosts but grows well in warm mild climates.

Ash gourd is native to Japan is found commonly throughout India. When touched, the fruit leaves an Ash-like residue on hands. That’s the reason behind its interesting name. The plant has broad leaves with flowers in yellow color. Ripe melons can grow as big as 70 to 80 cm in length. In this article, you will get the information about how to grow Ash gourd at home and the benefits of using Ash gourd and some other useful details of Ash gourd. Let’s dive into the topic!

Varieties of Ash Gourd

Varieties of Ash gourd are limited except for the size and shape of fruits.  The improved varieties are:

  • Co-1: oblong oval shape and weighing around 8 to 10 kg each
  • Co-2: fruits are small and spherical shape and the average weight is 3 kg each
  • Karikumbala: Local variety of Bangalore where the fruits are covered with Ashy coat
  • APAU Shakthi: Fruits are cylindrical shape and they grow long in size
  • IVAG-502: fruits are oblong shape and weighing around 10 to 13 kg each
  • Indu: medium-sized round fruits, tolerant to mosaic disease, average fruit length 24.3 cm
  • KAU local: medium-sized oval to oblong fruits with high flesh thickness and growing up to 55cms
  • TNAU Ash gourd co-1 hybrid: an oblong shape with medium size and weighing around 4 to 5 kg each
  • Ekalavya hybrid: Fruits weighing around 10 to 12 kg each

Benefits and uses of Ash Gourd

There are few health benefits of Ash gourd are mentioned below:

  • Ash gourd sharpens the mind
  • Ash gourd keeps the nerves very calm
  • Ash gourd increases energy in the body
  • Ash gourd helps in relieving acidity
  • Ash gourd reduces constipation, piles, boils
  • Ash gourd helps in curing peptic ulcer and in losing weight
  • Ash gourd helps in killing intestinal worms

Taking care of growing Ash Gourd indoors

Temperature and light requirement

Growing Ash gourds in winters when the weather is cold is not at all preferred. Ash gourds prefer warm mild weather. 25°C to 30°C is the optimal temperature for the fast growth of Ash gourd plants. The plants are adapted to a wide range of rainfall conditions.

Ash Gourd plants require full sunlight. Therefore your raised bed should be placed at a bright sunny spot. Keep the Ash Gourd container under open sunlight.

Soil requirement

It tolerates a wide range of soil but prefers a well-drained sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter. The optimum soil pH range of 5 – 6.7 is suitable, but plants tolerate a wide range of soils and even alkaline soils up to pH 8.0

Water requirement

Water your Ash Gourd plant which is in the pot every day in summer. Water the soil near the plant. Use a watering can to water the plants and make sure to get water in the form of the shower but not by a single flow. In the initial growth stage, water every 3-4 days. When the plant starts to flower and fruit, increase the rate to every alternate day. Avoid overwatering the plant as it may cause root rot.

Location to grow Ash Gourds

While growing Ash gourd in containers, it’s best to choose a spot with full sun for optimum growth. In hot summers protect the plant from the afternoon sun. As it’s a vining plant, you’ll either have to provide enough space for it to sprawl or place it near a fence or wall for support.

Fertilizers for Ash Gourds

Ash gourd is not a demanding plant and will do fine without fertilizers. Still, if the soil lacks nutrients, you can apply an all-purpose fertilizer at the time of planting. If the plant shows weak growth, fertilize again. You can also enrich the soil with compost or well-rotted aged manure. Regular inputs of organic matter are also going to help the plant.

Suitable season, sowing time and spacing of Ash Gourd growing indoors

Usually planting is done twice in a year from January to March and September to December is suitable weather for Ash gourd growing. In the monsoon season, sowing can be started after the first few showers of rain from May to June. Seeds of four to five are sown in each pit within a depth of one to two cm. If seeds are sown beyond two centimeters there will be a delay in germination. It’s advisable to water the land three to four days before sowing, which is also called as pre-sowing that will be beneficial for seeds. Germination will take place in about four to five days. After two weeks of germination, growers have to remove the unhealthy plants and keep only three plants per pit.

Choosing a Container for growing Ash Gourd indoors

Ash gourds are heavy feeders and they need lots of water. You will need a large, 16-20 inches pot, with drainage holes. Do make sure that its 10-12 inches deep. You can grow 2 plants in one container also.

The stepwise procedure of growing Ash Gourd indoors

In case if you miss this: Growing Avocado in Containers.

Ash Gourds
Ash Gourds
  1. Take a container of your choice with drainage holes at the bottom
  2. Fill the container with proper soil potting layers and selected growing medium
  3. Sow 2 seeds at the center of a pot
Growth stages of Ash Gourd plant

Sprouting stage: 8 to 10 days is the germination time for Ash gourd seeds and tiny sprouts will be visible.

Cotyledons: The first two leaves will appear in the second week of germination. These are false leaves that are called cotyledons.

First leaves: First leaves will appear above cotyledons at the end of the second week.

Seedling stage: From the second week, seedlings will start growing into a small plant.

Thinning: After the second week, keep only single seedling at one spot, cut off the lagging, small and weak seedlings with a pair of scissors.

Pests and diseases of Ash Gourd

Some major pests and diseases of Ash gourd are:

  1. Fruit flies: Fruit fly causing premature fruit drop and also yellowing and rotting of the affected fruits.

Control: Before the sowing of seeds apply carbaryl 10% DP in pits to destroy the pupae.

  1. Pumpkin caterpillar: One can find the eggs lay on the lower side of the leaves. The larva feeds on the leaves, flowers, and the flesh of the fruits.

Control: can be controlled by spraying Malathion 50 EC 1 ml/lit or Dimethoate 30 EC 1 ml/lit or Methyl demeton 25 EC 1 ml/lit

  1. Red beetle: These pests are red. Colored grubs after hatching feed on the parts that touch the ground such as roots, fruits, and stems. Adults feed on flowers and leaves.

Control: MethyDemeton 25EC and Malathion 50EC must be sprayed. Hand picks the adult beetles to destroy and after harvesting expose the field to the sun to destroy hibernating pests by thorough plowing.

  1. Aphids: Aphids in large numbers congregate on tender parts of the plant and suck sap resulting in curling and crinkling of leaves. Ants carry aphids from one plant to another.

Control: Spray malathion 0.01% per cent or quinalphos 0.05%

  1. Downy mildew: Cottony white mycelial growth is seen on the leaf surface. One can observe yellow spots on top of the leaves and water-soaked spots of fungus under the leaves. It is severe during the rainy season.

Control: Downy mildew can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil 2 g/lit twice at 10 days interval.

  1. Powdery mildew: The disease appears as small, round, whitish spots on leaves and stems, which later enlarge and coalesce rapidly. On the leaf surface, the white powdery mass appears. Heavily infected leaves become yellow, and later turn brown and dry. Extensive premature defoliation of the older leaves occurs resulting in yield reduction.

Control: Powdery mildew can be controlled by spraying Dinocap 1 ml/lit or Carbendazim 0.5 gm/lit.

Also, while taking care of growing Ash gourd, be aware of the mosaic virus. Avoid putting water on the leaves to save the plant from these diseases. If affected, uproot it. 

Harvesting procedure of Ash Gourd

Ash gourd climber will start flowering at the end of 3rd month. The time may vary slightly depending on the variety and weather conditions. You can start picking ripe Ash gourd fruits after 3 months of seed sowing. The stem attached to the fruit is quite thick, so take the help of clippers for picking. Harvesting season can continue for the next 3 months.

Harvesting can be done both at immature as well as a mature stage. Fruits for food consumption are harvested at an immature stage. The immature green fruits will be ready for harvest within 45 to 60 days. Fully grown fruits when matured, the stem connecting the fruit gets wrinkled and shrunken. Picking has to be done when the fruit stalk becomes waxy, and dried it’s time to pick them up! Wash the fruits properly before storing them.

You may also check this: Growing Watermelons Hydroponically.

Some commonly asked questions about growing Ash Gourd indoors

How do you store Ash Gourd?

Store it under the condition of the refrigerator. If some part of the fruit is cut/damage, cover with newspaper and then store. Ash gourd consists of an adequate amount of moisture and a little amount of fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates.

Is Ash gourd acidic or alkaline?

The nature of Ash gourd is alkaline and hence has a cooling effect on stomach acids and as such used effectively for treating digestive ailments like hyperacidity, dyspepsia, and ulcers. Ash gourd juice is also useful for diabetic patients.

Is Ash Gourd a fruit or vegetable?

Ash gourd is also known as winter melon is a very large fruit and is eaten as a vegetable when it matures. It has a hard, greenish cover with white pulpy fruit inside. In India, it is used mostly used to prepare a sweet called Petha.

Can we eat Ash Gourd seeds?

Yes, everyone can eat Ash Gourd seeds. It is used in so many recipes from salty to sweet recipes. And it is good for health from kids to adults.

What nutrients are there in Ash Gourd?

Ash gourd is rich in vitamins like C and B-complex and minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber are available in good amount.

Is Ash gourd good for weight loss?

Ash gourd is having dietary fibers that can be processed easily in the stomach, keeping one feeling full for longer, reducing cravings, and assisting in burning fat.

What are the different names of Ash gourd?

Its botanical name is Benincasa hispid. And the different names of Ash gourd are the wax gourd, white gourd, winter gourd, tallow gourd, Ash pumpkin, winter melon, Chinese preserving melon. Puhul is one more name and it is a vine grown for its very large fruit.

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