Growing Bitter Gourd ( Karela) in Containers
Bitter gourd / Bitter Melon is a fast growing warm seasonal climbing annual, native to South Asia. It is known as ‘Karela’ in Hindi. It tastes bitter due to a compound known as quinine and this is only reason that it is used as a treatment of malaria. Apart from that bitter gourd has many other medicinal properties like high calcium, potassium and phosphorous and fiber content. Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C are also found in it.
Seeds are best way to start bitter gourd plants.Seeds can be sown in March-May when temperature starts to rise.Soak seeds in water for at least 24 hrs before sowing for best results. 2 or 3 seeds can be sown together ½ inch deep in soil. Seeds will germinate in 5-7 days. The germinated seeds can be replanted on raised beds 18-24 inches apart.
If you are using transplanting method then do take care while rooting out seedlings to avoid disturbance to root system.
Bitter gourd grows well in a sandy loam soil. Use well drained soil, pH ranging from 5.5 – 6.7 enriched with organic matter like compost, dried manure.
Read Also : Common Vegetables to grow at home in India.
Sun / Temperature
This plant thrives in heat and humidity. As temperature rises, it grows quickly. Minimum 6 hrs of sun light is required. Extreme low temperature can hamper growth.
Regular watering is essential for good growth of the plant but do not overwater the plants.
If you worked compost into soil before planting, you can still add some slow release vegetable fertilizer like 14-14-14 at planting time. Feed plant with another dose of fertilizer in growing season. Water plants immediately after fertilizing.
As bitter gourd grows as a vine so it is necessary to save fruits from getting in touch with wet or moist ground. Make the vine climb on fence or any other support, this process is known as trellising. You can mulch the ground with dried leaves, straw etc thus avoiding any direct contact of fruit and soil.
Harvest the crop after 2 to 4 months of planting. Mature fruits are light green and juicy but bitter. Pick the fruits every 2-3 days when they are still at the tender stage. Regular picking is important as fruits will become bitterer as they mature and it can also hamper the growth of new fruits.
Leave some fruits to reach full maturity if they have to be reserved for subsequent crops. When fully mature, the fruits will break open and release brown or white seeds which can be collected.
Read Also : Growing potatoes (Aloo) at home.
Read Also : List of easily growing veggies
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