Introduction to Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
Here, today in this article we are going to discuss how to grow organic bitter gourd on the terrace. You can use this information for growing bitter gourd or melon organically in the backyard, balcony, or pots.
Bitter gourd is also called Bitter melon or Karela. For most people, Bitter gourd is not exactly a favorite vegetable. Bitter gourd is the only vegetable that is used for culinary and medical purposes. In this article, we also discuss the topics listed below:
- Types/varieties of bitter gourd
- Organic soil for growing bitter gourd on the terrace
- Sunlight requirement for growing organic bitter gourd on the terrace
- Suitable container or pot for growing organic bitter gourd on Terrace
- Trellis requirementnt for the vines of bitter gourd to climb
- Propagation of organic bitter gourd on the terrace
- How to germinate bitter gourd seeds in a paper towel?
- Planting time of bitter gourd on the terrace
- Planting and spacing of bitter gourd on the terrace
- Planting procedure of bitter gourd in the container
- Water requirement for growing organic bitter gourd on the terrace
- Organic fertilizers for growing bitter gourd on the terrace
- Benefits of using organic fertilizers for growing bitter gourd on the terrace
- How to prune the bitter gourd on the terrace?
- Pests and diseases of bitter gourd
- Harvesting the bitter gourd on the terrace
- Commonly asked questions for growing organic bitter gourd on the terrace
A Step By Step Guide to Grow Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
Bitter gourd belongs to the cucumber family. Bitter gourd is a climber plant, and hence you need to arrange trellis for it to grow. Bitter gourd has an excellent source of Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin C, and iron. Fruits of bitter gourd are quite light in weight. They quickly germinate from seeds.
Types/Varieties of Bitter Gourd
- Pusa Do Mausami
- Arka Harit
- Pusa Vishesh
- VK-I (Priya)
- MDV- l
Soil for Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
Bitter gourd needs fertile, well-drained soil for better growth. The pH level should be from 5.5 to 6.7. Bitter gourd survives well in soil with rich organic matter. They prefer well-drained and fertile soil. Adding organic compost, peat moss or manure helps in better growth and development of the plant. Peat moss can help the plant to survive more. Peat moss even provides nutrients to the plant.
Sunlight Requirement for Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
Bitter gourd needs full sun to survive. So, provide full sun to this plant, and it will produce heavily. Also, as it is a climber, you will need to provide support to it: A tall trellis or a garden fence. If you want to grow it on your terrace grow it near the wall so that it can go up along with it. Bitter gourd plant needs 6 hours of direct sunlight. Providing the required amount of sunlight helps to germinate seed faster.
Suitable Container for Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
You need a medium-sized plastic container with 2 to 3 drainage holes at the bottom of the container or pot you choose. The container size should be 16 inches deep and wide. You can grow 1 to 2 plants in this container. You need to avoid using the black color container. Be sure that the container has a drainage hole at the bottom.
Trellis Required For the Vines of Bitter Gourd to Climb
Make sure that the selected trellis is at least 6 feet tall so the vines have room to grow and wrap around it. You need to shape the trellis-like the letter “A” over the growing area. Growing bitter gourd on a trellis will help to prevent diseases, produce larger fruit, and make harvesting easier. A bitter gourd that is grown directly on the ground will not produce a larger fruit as a trellised plant. If you do not trellis your gourds, then add a layer of mulch to create a barrier between the plant and the soil, that keeps the moisture in the soil, and prevent fruit from rotting.
Propagation for Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
You can purchase Bitter gourd seeds any online or in garden shops. You can also use seeds from ripening yellow fruit. But ripen seeds have a red color on the coat and germination takes place easily. If you directly sow them without preparing before, seeds will germinate slowly in 3 to 4 weeks, especially at low temperatures. To increase the seed germination rate and for faster germination, you need to remove the seed coat. For removing the seed coat, you need to rub the Bitter gourd seeds from one side without damaging the endosperm inside the seed coat. Another way is you need to soak bitter gourd seeds in water before sowing the soil.
How to Germinate Bitter Gourd Seeds in a Paper Towel?
Here to germinate the Bitter gourd seeds in a paper towel, this method is called the Paper towel or tissue paper method. This makes the Bitter gourd seeds to sprout within 3 to 5 days.
Step 1) First, you need to take some Bitter gourd seeds and soak them in water for at least 12 hours.
Step 2) Then you need to put them in a tissue paper or a paper towel and spray some water on it.
Step 3) finally, you need to place them inside a zip lock polythene bag and keep it in a warm place.
Step 4) After 3 to 5 days you may observe sprouts.
Step 5) if the sprouts started in 5 days and then wait for 3 more days before transplanting the sprouts into a container.
Planting Time of Bitter Gourd on Terrace
Bitter gourds are a warm-season crop and are best fitted to growing in tropical and subtropical heat and humidity. Grow bitter gourds where daytime temperatures average between 24-31°C. Plant your bitter gourd in late spring or early summer.
Planting and Spacing of Bitter Gourd Plants on Terrace
Sow bitter gourd seeds in holes about half-inch deep and spaced 12 inches apart. You can sow two seeds in each hole. The seeds get germinated in 8 to 10 days, though low and high temperatures and soil too dry or too wet can slow germination. Vigorous plants trained on a trellis or fences are often spaced 9 to 10 feet apart. Plants allowed to sprawl on the ground should be grown on straw or plastic mulch to prevent fruits from resting on moist soil where they may rot.
Trellising can reduce diseases and make the harvesting process easier. Place a trellis 6 feet high and wide or slightly more next to every plant. When the vine grows to the highest of its trellis, prune or pinch away all lateral branches from the soil up to the last node. This may stimulate the upper branches to grow and produce a better yield. Prune laterals from 2 to 3 feet long and prune away the growing tip when it reaches the top of the trellis. As a result, the plant will produce a good number of flowers and fruit sooner.
Planting Procedure of Bitter Gourd in the Container
Step 1) first, you need to take a container of your choice with perfect drainage holes at the bottom of the container.
Step 2) Fill the container with suitable potting layers and selected a growing medium for your plant.
Step 3) you can sow about 2 seeds at the center of a pot. In the container, sow two seeds per pot in a spacing of about 3 x 3 ft.
Step 4) Push the seeds a little inside a soil medium with your fingers and completely cover them with the remaining soil.
Step 5) by using a watering can water the sown seedbed immediately by a light shower.
Steps 6) use organic fertilizer once a month for healthy growth and development of the plant.
Step 7) prune off unwanted leaves and dead leaves to get rid of diseases.
Steps 8) harvest them after the complete formation of fruit.
Water Requirement for Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
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Bitter gourd plant needs a good amount of water to survive well. You need to water the bitter gourd plant regularly, but be careful not to overwater them. Bitter gourd can stand by a short span of drought-like conditions. Always keep the soil moist but not soggy. Overwatering the bitter gourd plant can cause root rot. For watering bitter gourd plants use the watering can. Before watering makes sure that the soil is dry, this prevents seeds from rotting. You need to check the moisture level of the soil with your finger before watering the plant.
Fertilizers for Organic Growing Bitter Gourd on Terrace
The Bitter gourd plant should be fertilized once a month with liquid fertilizer. Homemade organic compost or natural compost is also recommended for a bitter gourd plant. Homemade organic compost includes kitchen waste. Well-rotted animal manure helps in providing nutrients to plants. You can even add tea compost for your bitter gourd.
Benefits of Using Organic Fertilizers for Growing Bitter Gourd on Terrace
- Using organic fertilizers may improve the soil texture of the plant
- Organic fertilizers are very safe to use
- Using organic fertilizer may reduce pests and diseases of plant
- Organic fertilizers are very easy to apply
- By using organic fertilizer plant damage threat is avoided
Flowers and Pollination in Growing Organic Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd is a cross-pollinated plant. Insects and bees pollinate this plant. Nearly about 5 to 6 weeks after planting vines commonly begin flowering. Male flowers open first, followed in a week female flowers open. Both the flowers are yellow. Female flowers have a swelling at the bottom of the bloom resembling a tiny melon. Bees and pollinating insects visit both the flowers; they transfer pollen from male to female flowers. Male flowers survive only for one day; they open in the early morning and drop from the plant in the evening. Flower drop is common for all plants.
The pollinated female flowers will begin to enlarge and then in 2 to 4 months, the fruit will mature. Matured fruits will be ready to pick in about 12 weeks after planting. They will be light green.
How to Prune the Bitter Gourd on Terrace?
You need to prune the tip of the main stem once it grows past the top of the trellis. You need to use a pair of pruning shears to cut the growing stem back by 2 inches. This helps in the faster growth of fruit and puts the total plant’s energy into the lateral vines that have grown from the main stem.
If you are not growing your plant on a trellis, then prune the growing vine once the first female flowers appear on the plant. Female flowers will have a green stem attached to yellow petals. So, you need to prune it.
Pests and Diseases of Bitter Gourd
Pests and control methods are listed below:
- Squash vine borer
Symptoms – You can observe holes in the vines of the plant.
Management – You need to apply appropriate insecticide if you found any eggs on the leaves of the plant.
- Western striped cucumber beetle
Symptoms – You can observe damage to leaves, stems, and fruits.
Management – Prune the damaged leaves.
- Red Pumpkin Beetle
Symptoms – This insect attacks the seeds at the starting stage.
Management – Use suitable soil for your plant to get rid of this insect.
Symptoms – They are green and yellow. They can damage the leaves and vines of the plant.
Management – They can be reduced by pruning out the dead leaves of the plant.
- Fruit Fly
Symptoms – These can be attacked in high humidity, in summer.
Management – Take care of the plant in summer by watering regularly.
Diseases and control methods are listed below:
- Alternaria leaf blight
Symptoms – Small, yellow-brown spots on the leaves. Then leaves begin to curl and eventually die.
Management – Water from the base of the plant to avoid this fungal infection.
- Cercospora leaf spot
Symptoms – This disease occurs on older leaves of the plant as small spots with light to tan-brown centers.
Management – To get rid of this disease, spray the fertilizer at right time.
- Downy mildew
Symptoms – You can observe brown lesions on the upper side of the leaves.
Management – You should not overwater the plant.
- Powdery mildew
Symptoms – You can observe yellowing of leaves and powdery, white spots on the leaves of the plant.
Management – Give the plant good air circulation, you should not overcrowd the plant.
Symptoms – You can observe pale green and water-soaked lesions on the leaves of the plant.
Management – You need to plant only in well-draining soils; and spray plants with appropriate protective fungicides.
- Septoria leaf spot
Symptoms – You will observe small dark water-soaked spots on the leaves of the plant and they turn beige to white in dry conditions.
Management – Early application of organic fertilizer can help to reduce this disease.
- Angular leaf spot
Symptoms – You can observe small water-soaked lesions on leaves that expand between leaf veins and become angular in shape very fast.
Management – You need to use the disease-free seed for planting.
- Crown rot
Symptoms – There will be sudden wilting of plants and brown lesions on stems and roots.
Management – Avoid overwatering the plant and use suitable soil for the plant.
Harvesting the Bitter Gourd on Terrace
You need to harvest bitter gourd about 12 to 16 weeks after planting and 8 to 10 days after flowers drop and when the fruits are 4 to 6 inches long. The fruits will look a bit pear-shaped, with light green skin and a few streaks of yellow on them. If fruits stay too long on the vine they will over-ripen, grow too large, turn yellow, and become bitter. Fruits can vary in their degree of bitterness on the same vine.
The bitter gourd has a thin layer of flesh that turns orange when ripe. The fruit of bitter gourd will be watery and crunchy much like a cucumber.
Commonly Asked Questions for Growing Organic Bitter Gourd on Terrace
How long do bitter gourds take to grow?
They take nearly 180 days to grow.
Do Gourds come back every year?
If you grow them on thrills they may come back, if you grow them on the ground they may not come back.
Can we grow Bitter gourd from fresh seeds?
Yes, you can grow them from fresh seeds. Growing from fresh seeds also prevents many diseases.
Is Bitter gourd is a self-pollinated plant?
No, bitter gourd is a cross-pollinated plant.
Why is my Bitter gourd plant turning yellow?
Bitter gourd may turn yellow due to some fungal infection. To avoid this use an appropriate organic fertilizer at a required amount.
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