An Introduction to Bottle gourd:Scientifically Bottle gourd is known as Lagenaria siceraria and belongs to Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber family). It is also known as Calabash, and in India, it is popularly known as Lauki. It is a well-known and widely cultivated fruiting vegetable in the Indian subcontinent & around the world. The bottle gourd plant is a climber with spring-like tendrils. The milky green-colored fruits with white flesh are formed in various shapes and sizes; the long cylindrical and short round varieties are the most common ones.
Bottle gourd uses:
- Bottle gourd is an excellent soft vegetable with delicate flavour; both sweet and spicy dishes can be prepared from it.
- In India, it is cooked as a vegetable, used for chops and Koftas or for making Halwa.
- Bottle gourd is best low-calorie health food loaded with vitamins, minerals and plenty of water.
- Apart from being food, Calabash has a significant cultural use. Calabash is used in many string instruments in India as a resonator. Instruments like Sitar, Veena, etc. are made of wood, but, they can have a calabash resonator at the end of the strings table called Toomba.
How to grow bottle gourd from seed:
- It is easy to grow bottle gourd by seed sowing method throughout the year. Summer and monsoon are the best time to plant seeds. Buy bottle gourd seeds online.
- Seeds are sown directly in small pits or on raised beds which germinate in 7-8 days.
- Bottle gourd seedlings are very fast-growing and quickly form the habit of a climber.
- Strong trellis support should be built for the climber to grow. Many gardeners let the plant trail on the ground or allow it to climb on poles or roof of the house.
- Pinch off growing points of the young plant to induce branching.
- The side shoots will develop separate male and female flowers in the second month.
- After pollination, the female flowers have little gourds beneath them. If male flowers are plentiful, some of them can be removed.
Harvesting bottle gourds:
- The harvesting season begins after 2-3 months of seed sowing, and it continues for about 6-8 weeks.
- Best stage to harvest is when fruits have soft, smooth surface and you can push your finger nail through the skin or scrape it easily.
How to grow bottle gourd in pots:
Bottle gourds can be easily grown in 14-inch containers or big sized grow bags. Add good quality potting mixture in the container before planting seeds. The organic veggie mix is one of the best suited growing media for bottle gourds. Grow one plant per container.
Bottle gourd plant care:
- Bottle gourd should be grown in open and sunny locations.
- Top dress the plant with a thick layer of coco peat and well-rotted manure in equal parts. Repeat this 2-3 times during the growing season.
- Bottle gourd plant requires plenty of watering for growth. It requires abundant moisture all the time.
- Continuous stopping and pinching of climber ensures very faithful and sharply plant.
Read more about growing cucurbits: the monsoon-special vegetables.
Bottle gourd plant troubleshoots:
- Immature gourds are falling: A very common trouble. Baby gourds remain at a standstill, eventually shrivelled up and fall off. Usually, this is due to lack of sufficient nourishment or watering. Supply liquid manure and let it reach right down to the roots.
- Small fruits are rotting: Gourds when quite small, turn yellow, rot at the end and eventually fall off. This may be due to waterlogging or imperfect pollination. Read about 5 reasons your plants are turning yellow.
Bottle gourd is one of the oldest vegetables grown by ancient human civilizations. The history of bottle gourd cultivation is untraceable and goes back thousands of years.
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