Growing bitter gourd from seeds is a terrific idea since it’s a favourite in Malaysia. Bitter gourd is widely used — to be stuffed with shrimp paste or served with meat or soup.
The bitter gourd is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, and it’s perfect for growing in Malaysia since it’s a subtropical plant that requires warm to hot and humid weather to grow.
It’s a perennial climber with a thin stem that can grow up to 5 meters in length. This type of plant needs supports to grow as the branch is very fragile. Another characteristic is that both the stem and lobed leaves are hairy.
Bitter gourds produce yellow flowers, male or female, which are pollinated by insects. Since this fruit is bitter, you need to consume it unripe when it’s still green.
The skin can also be eaten after cooking, and the flesh is watery and crusty.
Growing Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd seeds can be planted directly into the compost. Some gardeners prefer to soak the seeds overnight. Soaking the seeds allows the germination process to start, as they absorb a lot of water.
Remember bitter gourd seeds should be started indoors. Place the seeds in a pot of sandy, well-drained soil. It’s a wise idea to use a large pot because once germinated, the plants proliferate.
Don’t plant the seeds too deep; 1cm in the soil is more than enough. Even though bitter gourd seeds love water, avoid soggy conditions. It’s critical to have a good drainage system.
Since bitter gourd seeds need high temperatures to germinate successfully, make sure to position the pots within 90cm of the west or south-facing windows where they’ll get direct sunlight.
Some gardeners warm the pots to 30 degrees Celsius using a mat and keep the pots covered to retain warmth and moisture near the seeds.
Remember to water when the soil is slightly dry in the top to prevent rot and mildew. You can expect the first seedlings in approximately four days, with most of the seeds germinating around day eight.
Transplant To Your Vegetable Garden
Wait a couple of weeks and you will see the bitter gourd seeds slowly start to sprout. This takes some time so be patient. As soon as the plant flourishes, the rate of growth will increase.
When the seeds mature into a young plant, you must carefully transplant them to your vegetable garden or a larger pot.
Remember bitter gourd seeds must receive plenty of sunlight, so make sure to place them in a sunny spot. Don’t forget to plant them in well-drained soil.
Keep in mind that bitter gourds grow into vines, so it’s key to avoid damage by providing the necessary support.
When the fruit skin is green with tiny yellow bits, you know it’s time to harvest your bitter gourd; they’ll be around 15cm in length by this time.
Make sure to pick the fruit frequently to prevent the plant from becoming overwhelmed.
Care and Planting
- Bitter gourd plants should always be grown under warm, sheltered conditions since they’re susceptible to cold.
In tropical countries like Malaysia, you can plant the seeds directly in the ground when the soil warms to 23 degrees Celsius. This type of plant grows best in hot and humid climates.
- Make sure to space the plants 30cm apart in a sunny fast-draining rich soil.
- The best way to reduce diseases and make harvesting easier is to place a trellis 1.8 meters high and wide next to each plant.
Doing this will stimulate the upper branches to grow and produce a higher yield. Don’t forget to prune lateral and prune away the growing tip.
- You can add an organic fertiliser such as 5-10-10 around plants early in the season. It’s a good idea to give plants boost water with compost every third week during the growing season.
- Never grow bitter gourd with potatoes and herbs. The best companion plants are beans, corn, pumpkin, squash, and peas.
Bitter gourd seeds grow best in hot and humid climates. In addition, it’s a good idea to plant them in a warm, sunny location.
Always plant bitter gourd in well-drained soil and sandy or silty loam soil. Last but not least, good drainage is vital.
For more information, feel free to get in touch with us. Happy planting!