Bitter gourd is one of the easiest and delicious vegetables you can grow in your garden. This vegetable is also known as Bitter Melon, and it is related to cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons (they are from the family Cucurbitaceae).
There are different types of bitter gourd seeds, but they all have a warty exterior and an oblong shape once they grow.
Bitter gourd is a warm-season crop. The surrounding temperature must be between 24-27° Celsius for the vines to grow optimally.
Keep in mind that bitter gourd seeds germinate best when temperatures are higher than 18 degrees Celsius.
Even though bitter gourd seeds love hot and humid weather, high humidity can make the crop susceptible to various fungal diseases.
Bitter gourd seeds are versatile and can withstand different soil types, but it is best to provide them with a well-drained sandy loam soil rich in organic matter.
The ideal soil pH is 6.0-6.7, but grown plants can tolerate higher alkaline soils.
How To Grow Bitter Gourd From Seeds
It is possible to grow bitter gourd from seeds on pots. You will need a 30 to 40cm deep pot and a strong trellis.
The vine can grow more than 5 meters long, so ensure strong support is available for at least 1.50 to 1.80 meters tall. When the Bitter Gourd vine has reached that height, it is time to redirect it.
Remember, bitter gourd seeds need at least six hours of sunlight a day to expand heavily.
Although it can stand for drought-like conditions for a short period, make sure to water regularly to keep the soil moist. This will result in a good yield.
Even if you grow bitter gourd seeds in a well-managed soil with plenty of organic matter, it is still beneficial to fertilise.
The key to maximizing the benefits is to learn when to do it. If you apply fertilisers at the wrong time, it can damage the plant. So it is essential to stick to a fertiliser schedule.
How much fertiliser is needed depends on the variety, fertility of the soil, climate, and planting season. The best time to fertilise is when the plants are in their peak growing cycle.
A plant is in its peak growing cycle when it leaves out, flowers, or puts on new growth.
For fertilisation, follow the guide below:
- Usually, well-decomposed FYM (15/20 t/ha) is mixed with the soil during cultivation.
- The suggested dose of fertiliser is 50-100 kg N, 40-60 kg P2O5, and 30-60 kg K2O per hectare.
- Half the nitrogen (N) and entire phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) must be used before planting the bitter gourd seeds.
- The remaining nitrogen should be applied when the plant is flowering.
Always use the fertiliser in a ring at 6 to 7cm from the base of the stem. Do your best to complete all the fertiliser applications before the fruit sets.
If you are growing bitter gourd indoors, you can fertilise them with a liquid plant food every month. Outdoor plants should be fertilised with gentle formulas throughout the growing season.
When you feed bitter gourd seeds during the entire growing season, productivity and growth are increased. Avoid fertilising the plant until it settles. Doing it before can cause the plant to become weak.
Ultimately, don’t forget to pay attention to the time of the day you fertilise. It is an excellent idea to apply during the coldest part of the day, which usually means early in the morning or late at night.
If you apply granular formulas, the best time to do it is when you are watering, so the nutrients can go directly to the plant’s roots preventing burns.
Always consult a professional if you don’t know when and how to apply fertilisers.
The Bottom Line
Although bitter gourd seeds can be grown throughout the year, Malaysia’s best growing seasons are from October to December and May to July. It is best to plant every two years in the same area.
It is always an excellent idea to water thoroughly after each fertiliser application. This way, you can ensure the nutrients are there where they are needed the most.
Remember not to apply too much fertiliser. It is a terrific idea to do a soil test to know what nutrients the soil needs.
Finally, keep in mind that too much fertilising is as harmful as not fertilising.