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Plant Care Guide >> Container Vegetable Gardening >> Bitter gourd
Bitter gourd vegetable and very bitter in taste. It is a rich source of phosphorous. Bitter gourd is a blood purifier, activates spleen and liver and is highly beneficial in diabetes. It is a purgative, appetizer, digestive, anti-inflammatory and has healing capacity.
Common name: Bitter gourd
Vernacular Languages: Hindi: Karela; Santhali: Karla
Botanical Name: Momordica charantia
Family: Curubitaceae
Soil Preparation:

The best medium for the seeds is a fertile, well drained soil with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.7, enriched with organic matter, such as compost or dried manure. The soil must be prepared well by adding organic matter before planting.

Sowing:

Two or three seeds can be sown together in a pit 1/2 inch deep. Water lightly. For better results soak the seeds in water 24 hours before sowing. The seeds will germinate in 2-3 days.

Planting:

The germinated seeds can be replanted in 12" pots with 2 transplants in a pot.

Climate:

Mainly a warm season plant, bitter gourd thrives in hot and humid climates.

Light:

The plant needs to be grown in full sun.

Watering:

Regular watering with plenty of water is essential for its growth.

Staking:

Erect a trellis for the plants to clamber up; it will provide air circulation, keep the gourds from becoming flat on one side.

Fertilizing:

When the plant begins to bear fruit, apply 20 gms of urea per pot at an interval of two weeks.

Pest and Problems:

It is susceptible to watermelon mosaic virus, other cucurbit viruses and powdery mildew, which can be controlled by sulfur dust. Rust disease is controlled by spraying foliage with oxycarboxin. The fruits are subject to attack by various fruit flies and fruit rots. Pests attack on fruits can be prevented by wrapping fruits with newspapers, when they are about a few centimeters long.

Growth Habit:

It is a fast growing vegetable with a tender vine.

Harvesting:

Flowers will start appearing in 5-6 weeks and fruition will occur between two to four months. Mature fruits are ready to be picked within3 months from planting and they will be light green and juicy with white flesh 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 more bitter as they mature and it can also hamper the growth of new fruits.

Special Care:

Vines should be pruned at the tips when female flowers start developing to encourage branching and fast bearing.

Medicinal Uses:

Bitter gourd can be used to cure Diabetes, Piles, Worms, Leucorrhoea, Jaundice, Liver trouble, Stomach worms and constipation. Reference

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