Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon, is a popular vegetable that has a bitter taste but is very delicious to eat and good for your health, especially if you are diabetic. It is packed with many essential vitamins and minerals that enhance its therapeutic effects.
It is a vine that can be very easily grown in your garden or on your terrace, even in a pot. You just need to use good soil and put it in a place where it gets plenty of sunshine and fresh air. The best part is that this plant does not need much attention. With a little effort, you can enjoy organic bitter gourd harvested from your own garden for months.
Before sowing the seeds, you need to choose the right location and time. Bitter gourd grows best in organically rich, sandy or loamy soil that is well-drained, with a pH level in the range of 5.8 to 6.4.
Plant your seeds in the late afternoon so they aren’t immediately hit with direct sunlight. This will reduce the mortality rate. Although bitter gourd prefers hot or warm weather, so make sure you have a place where your plant can enjoy a lot of warmth from the sun for better growth.
- Steps to Grow Bitter Gourd in a Pot
- Step 1. Prepare the soil
- Step 2. Use the correct sized pot and ensure proper drainage
- Step 3. Fill the pot with soil
- Step 4. Sow the seeds
- Step 5. Water daily and check the growth
- Step 6. Give the young plant some support
- Step 7. Allow the plant to grow in sunlight
- Step 8. Add a rope for support
- Step 9. Harvest the fruit
- Additional Tips
Steps to Grow Bitter Gourd in a Pot
Things you’ll need:
- Necessary gardening tools
- Bitter gourd seeds
- A pot
- Fertile soil
- Vermicompost or any other organic compost
- A stick for support
- A rope
Step 1. Prepare the soil
It is essential to add some compost, such as vermicompost, to your soil before you start planting to give your plant a better environment in which to thrive.
Mix the soil and vermicompost in a ratio of 1:1. Rub it well between your hands to loosen up the soil. Remove any stones and other hard particles from the prepared soil, as they can create obstacles later on.
Step 2. Use the correct sized pot and ensure proper drainage
Choose a medium-sized pot and put small, flat stones over the holes in the bottom. This allows proper drainage of water while preventing soil from slipping out. Bitter gourd thrives in well-drained soil.
Remember that your pot must have holes in it to ensure proper drainage. This is important to prevent fungal infections on the roots of your plant in the later stages of growth.
Step 3. Fill the pot with soil
Put the prepared soil and compost mix in the pot. Fill it completely, leaving only 1 inch from the top. If you find any hard substances in the soil while filling your pot, just remove them.
Step 4. Sow the seeds
You can buy good quality seeds online or from your nearest garden store or supermarket. Hybrid seeds that are pest and disease-resistant are a good option.
You can plant the seeds directly in the pot or allow them to germinate in a germination tray first.
Make a hole in the soil, put 1 or 2 seeds in the hole and then fill the hole with soil.
Water the seeds a little bit, just so that the soil becomes wet.
Step 5. Water daily and check the growth
Like all other plants, water is important for the growth of bitter gourds. Water the seeds daily and wait patiently for about a week until the seedlings start to emerge. Soon the small plant will start growing day by day. Keep track of the growth.
Water the plant when the soil loses moisture. Water it generously and regularly, but be careful not to overwater it. The soil should be moist, but not soggy.
Step 6. Give the young plant some support
As soon as the small plant has grown about 2 to 3 inches long, it is time to provide support for the vine to creep on. This is important to prevent the leaves from having direct contact with the soil. By this time, the vine will have developed a few leaves. Initially, you can use a strong stick, and later use a rope on which the vine can climb and grow.
Step 7. Allow the plant to grow in sunlight
After providing support, you need to do two things:
You must water the plant on a regular basis. You can do this every morning or in the afternoon, but remember that you must not overwater it.
Also, from time to time you may need to adjust the vines to help them cling onto the stick.
Step 8. Add a rope for support
As the vine starts growing longer, you need to use a rope to allow the vine to climb.
In the meantime, you will notice flowers blooming on the vine.
The plant will have both male and female flowers. While the male flowers fall off in 1 to 2 days, the female flowers go on to produce fruits. More female flowers will bloom in the coming days.
Step 9. Harvest the fruit
After about three months, you can harvest the fruits of your labor. The mature gourd fruits have a light green color and the ends of the spines will become round. Freshly harvested fruit tastes the best.
When harvesting, gently pull the fruit from its stem. You can harvest the fruits every few days. Make sure they do not turn yellow, which indicates over-ripeness.
- If you plan on planting gourds again for the next season, just leave some fruits unharvested on the vine. They will turn yellow and break open naturally. Take out the seeds from the mucilage, clean them and store them in a dry place.
- Take care while handling store-bought seeds, as they are often chemically treated. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
- If you are growing bitter gourd in an open garden, make a trellis or fence in order to help the vine grow properly.
- From time to time, till the soil to eliminate the weeds and promote good air circulation to the roots.
- Keep an ample supply of organic fertilizer made from your own compost bin.
- Too much watering, as well as excessive use of organic fertilizer, is not recommended.
- Major pests or diseases rarely attack the vines, however, keep a close eye on it just in case. If you notice signs of pests attacking the plant, make a homemade pesticide and spray it on the foliage.
- From time to time, remove any dry and decaying leaves from the plant.
- To remove the bitterness of bitter gourds, soak them in salt water for a while before cooking.