Bottle Gourd Care: Best Vegetable with cultural value
A perfect healthy vegetable, found in most part of the world can be a good choice for beginners who wants to grow part of their food. Bottle gourd Care is very easy and can be easily grown in backyard or in your balcony / terrace with direct sunlight. These are climbers with a short life cycle and requires very little maintenance.
Quick Details of Bottle gourd
|Other Common Names||Birdhouse gourd, bottle gourd, long melon, white-flowered gourd, New Guinea bean Tasmania bean, Opo squash, Calabash|
|Flowering||Spring, white or yellow male and female flowers.|
|Light||Bright direct sunlight for 5-7 hours.|
|Water||Regular watering to maintain the moisture in plants.|
|Temperature||16 to 25 degree Celsius.|
|Soil||Well draining, nutrient rich fertilizer.|
|Fertilizer||Organic fertilizer while sowing seeds.|
|Habitat||Normal to cold weather conditions.|
|Toxicity||Normally not toxic, over ripened fruits can be toxic and develop complications when consumed.|
|Common Diseases||Powdery mildew, downy mildew, leaf spot, aphids, spider mites, beetles.|
|Scientific name||Lagenaria siceraria|
Bottle gourd Buying Instructions
- Buy quality seeds and take care of expiry date on the packet.
- If you are buying plant, buy a healthy plant and check the variety of the bottle gourd from the seller.
- You will require bigger pot and a support for the plant to climb.
Overview of Bottle gourd
They are annual climbers belonging to the family of Cucurbitaceae. The plants are moslty grown for it long fruit that are used for multiple purposes. They are climbers and can grow up to a height a 15 to 20 ft. long. The leaves are wide, with entire margins and have small hairs on its surface giving it a velvety touch. The plants bear both male and female flowers separately. The male flowers develop long peduncles whereas the female flowers have shorter ones. The flowers are mostly white in colour and can be up to 4 inches in diameter.
The fruits are primarily used as a vegetable and are green, fleshy and has a smooth skin. the mature dry vegetable is hard and used as utensils. The fruits can have different shapes. They are found in round, bottle shaped, serpentine shaped, slime and tall shaped and can grow as much as a metre long.
Image Source: Hyunjung Kim, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Usage and Advantage of Bottle gourd
- Consumed as a vegetable.
- The dried fruits are used as a container in Africa and Hawaii.
- The fruit is said to have healing powers and used as a medicine in Chinese Traditional medicine.
- Used in making resonators for musical instruments.
General Bottle gourd care
Bottle gourd care depends on the conditions you are growing. Normally, if you are growing in backyard or in field, you need to save the plant from animals. If you are growing in balcony or terrace, you need to take care of water and fertilisers. Pollination is very important factor and you have to ensure that insects and flies are regular guests on the plant.
They prefer a well draining organic content rich soil with a pH ranging between 6 to 7. Add enough manure or cow dung to the soil to encourage growth of the plant.
They prefer their soil to be moist. check the moisture content of the soil everyday before watering the plants. The plants however prefer regular watering but make sure that the water gets fully drained. The plants thrive when provided with excellent draining system.
They prefer bright direct sunlight for at least 6-8 hours an day. The plants however cannot tolerate scorching heat and should be shifted to shade immediately.
They are cold weather plants. They thrive best in climatic conditions ranging between 18- 25 degree Celsius. The plants cannot tolerate extreme weather conditions and high humidity. Shift the plants to partial shade in case of high temperatures. The increase or decrease in temperature can affect the germination and growth of the plant.
Special Bottle gourd care:
These are climbers and require support for growth. Special bottle gourd care includes providing support at the younger age of the plant and the plants can thrive well with mulching. Use dried leaves to mulch the soil. Cut off the tip of the plants ones they reach 5-8 foot long. This will allow the plants to develop branches. Provide proper aeration and make sure to remove the dead leaves and branches.
Add a organic fertilizer, manure or compost before sowing the seeds or transplanting the seedlings. The plants can be fertilized ones a month with any organic fertilizer or vermicompost.
Pests and other problems for Bottle gourd
These are attacked by a number of pests and pathogens. Some of the common pests seen in bottle gourd are Spider mites, aphids, beetles, fruit borer, caterpillars and fruit flies. The pests can infect the plant and can cause in yellowing of the leaf and wilting of the plant. use any organic pesticide or neem oil to get rid of the pests. In case of severe infection destroy the infected parts of the plant. A regular check of the plant and proper aeration and sunlight can prevent infection of the plants with pests.
Some of the coomon infections seen in bottle gourd are:
Leaf Spot is an bacterial disease caused due to a pathogen Pseudomonas lachrymans. The infected leaves produce spots that can turn brown and dry out causing yellowing and wilting of the leaves. The pathogen can also infect the fruits developing water soaked spots and the fruits later drop off. Spray neem oil or soap solution. get rid of the infected parts of the plant.
It is an fungal disease caused by Podosphaera xanthii . The infected leaves develop white circular colonies of powdery substances. These later turn black and spread throughout the leaf. The infection first arises on the underside of the leaf further spreading to the upper side. This can cause wilting and death of the leaf and stunted growth of the plant. Use a fungicide or neem oil spray to get rid of the pathogens. I case of severe infection destroy the infected part.
It is a fungal disease caused by Pseudoperonospora cubensis. These pathogens mostly thrive when the climatic conditions are wet and humid. They can be transmitted through air and water. The infected leaves develop pale green or yellow spots on the upper side of the leaves which later turn brown. This causes the leaves to dry and fall. Remove the infected leaves. Prevent overhead watering of the plants to avoid the spread of infection. Use a fungicide at the early stage of infection to prevent its spread.
Propagation of Bottle gourd
The propagation of bottle gourd takes place usually through seeds. The plants usually grow during the winters between November to March. Prepare the soil by adding enough fertilizer and organic matter. Pre soak the seeds a night before sowing. This can help in faster germination. Sow the seeds 3 inch deep and cover it with soil. Water them regularly and place them under bright direct sunlight. Transplant the seedlings ones they grown up to height of 3 -4 inches. The seeds can take 5 to 6 weeks to germinate.