Growing Bitter Gourd
Bitter Gourd information:
The Scientific name of Bitter Gourd is Momordica charantia, and it belongs to Family Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber family). It is sometimes referred as Bitter Melon. Popularly known as Karela in India. Bitter gourd is a slender creeper trained on a trellis with dark green or greenish white oval fruits with blunt tubercles tapering towards the end, as the shape of a gulli in the India’s native play of ‘Gulli and Danda’. The climber also makes an ornamental hedge. It is a summer and rainy season crop suited for Indian conditions. There are small fruited and large fruited varieties.
Bitter Gourd uses:
As the name bitter gourd itself suggests, it has a characteristic bitter taste, but if the fruit is mature and the process of cooking is right, it makes one of most delicious Indian dishes. As the Local proverb also goes, an unripe fruit is very bitter. After peeling of the tubercles, if the fruit is soaked in salted buttermilk for 4-6 hours, its bitterness is reduced. The vegetable is said to have medicinal properties, especially its juice is considered excellent for diabetes.
How to grow Bitter Gourd?
Bitter Gourd is grown by seed sowing method. Bitter gourd seedlings don’t transplant very well; it is recommended to sow the seeds directly in soil. Bitter Gourd seeds are sown in round pits at convenient places to let the plant trail on poles, roofs, pergolas, stakes or trellis. Buy Bittergourd seeds online.
Read more about vegetables that require trellis support
Spacing: 18-inch x 18-inch pits are made about 3 ft apart with 3 seeds in one pit.
Seed sowing months: Summer sowing is done in February- March. Monsoon sowing is done in June-July.
Growing Bitter Gourd in containers:
It is very easy to grow bitter gourd in containers. Ideal container size is 16 inches wide and 16 inches high. A good quality potting mixture like Organic veggie mix should be added to the container.
Fertilisers for Bitter Gourd:
Bitter gourds are not massive feeders; however, once they start flowering, you need to seriously consider about adding organic manure to ensure vigorous growth as well as a decent production of fruits.
Bitter Gourd plant care:
Bittergourd climber requires the support of a trellis. The plant should be grown in full sunlight. This climber needs plenty of watering, that’s why it grows very well in monsoon season. You should protect your plant from powdery mildew when the plant is young by spraying fungicides. Learn about how to grow climbers & creepers in your garden.
Harvesting Bitter Gourd:
Bitter gourds can be harvested 2.5- 3 months after seed sowing. Harvesting season can continue for about six weeks and even further. Harvest the bitter gourd at the right time when the fruit is neither too small and young, nor it is too hard and fibrous.
Note: When the plant is growing, you are going to see small yellow bitter gourds developing; such fruits should be pruned.
Different varieties of Bitter gourd: