In India and other parts of Asia, gourds are grown as food rather than just as decorative fruit. They are all Members of the cucumber family, known as cucurbits. All of these vegetables produce vines that run along the ground or climb. It is best to train them on a trellis or fence, thus keeping the fruit off the ground.
You can plant seeds in the summer directly in the garden after all danger of frost. Alternatively seeds may be started indoors 6-8 weeks before your 1st frost free date. Cucurbits need full sun and well-drained soil in order to thrive. Before planting, add organic matter for best results.
Cucurbits produce separate male and female flowers, but they both occur on the same plant. To distinguish the male flowers from the female flowers in cucurbits, look at the flowers closely. It is behind the flower where the differences between male and female flowers can be observed. Behind the flower,the female flower possesses an ovary that looks like a miniature version of the fruit that will eventually form.Pollen must be transferred from the male flowers to the female flowers to obtain fruit. Pollen transfer is done by bees and other insects. If necessary, one can hand pollinate female flowers transferring the pollen from the male flower using an artist's brush.
(Lageneria siceraria) Bottle gourd, also known as bottle squash, calabash gourd, Doodhi, or Lowki is a delicious vegetable that has many uses. Its delicate nutty flavor adds greatly to hot curries as well as cooling yogurt dishes like Raita. It can be used like squash but it has a firmer, crisper texture.
Alok is a light green variety, with uniform straight tender fruits, 1 to 1.5 ft long. 15- 20 seeds/regular pkt.
Vigorous plants with prolific bearing habit. Fruits are tender and cylindrical 1 ft. long fruit weighing 1.5 Kg. The rind is smooth, dark green with white specks. The flesh is white with slow seed maturity. It is a heavy yielder.
An Italian variation of bottle gourd, this variety grows long and slender. Picked when it is still small it can be eaten like zucchini. When allowed to mature it can be dried and turned into objects such as durable containers, churns, ladles, spoons, pipes, carved objects and musical instruments.
(Citrullus vulgaris) Also known as apple gourd. The very tender and tasty fruit are flat round in shape and weight 3 to 4 ounces at harvest. Prolific vines grow 40 to 50 inches long and have hair on the stems and leaves. Flowering begins at 30 to 35 days and first harvest follows 15 to 20 days later. Prepared in India in a number of ways: cooked with curry or served with eggplant, peas, potatoes or other vegetables. Good source of Vitamin A.
Round to square in shape with the bottom slightly bigger than the top. When mature the gourd is coverered in white powder. Single fruit weights 3 to5 Lbs. Palmate leaf, short internode wth the first female generally appearing in 6th-9th section, each 2-4 leaves will bear a female flower, sub-vines can also bear fruits.
Cultivation: The growing period is about 90-120 days, seedling age is about 35-40 days, from transplanting to beginning of harvest tender melons need about 40-55 days. Best started indoors 6-8 before transplanting outdoors.
(Momordica charantia) Bitter gourd or karela, also known as bitter melon in the Chinese markets, is a delicacy that is nutritious and is renowned to have medicinal qualities. It can be fried, stuffed, pickled, baked or curried. Varieties of this vegetable include those with very light, almost whitish green skin to the dark bottle green colored skin. Some are almost a foot-and-a-half, while others are just about 2"-3" long. Cooking this vegetable seems to reduce some of the bitter taste. Jawahar is emerald green, 7-8" fruit, quite bitter, a heavy yielder bearing 55-60 days from sowing.
Vigorous plants with prolific bearing habit. Starts fruiting in 45-50 days after sowing. Fruits are long (9-12") with dark green shining skin having sharp tubercles. It is a heavy yielder with good transport qualities. Glossy Indian type bittergourd.
Indian type bitter gourd/ Vigorous plants start bearing in 45-50 days after sowing. Fruits are short (2-3 in) spindle shaped with dark green shiny skin having sharp tubercles on their surface. It is a high yielder and suitable for stuffed preparations.
Oriental type bittergourd that is less bitter than the Indian varieties. A very high yielding high quality hybrid. The plants are vigorous and early. Fruits are shiny light green with continuous attractive ribs and few bubbles. Fruits are 15 inches in length with blunt end and weighing upto 1.5 lbs.
Ridgegourd (Luffa acutangula), or turiya is another easy gourd to grow and is a versatile vegetable that adds a new dimension to vegetarian cuisine. Rishi is a long, slender, variety shiny green with prominent ridges. The fruit is 15-17" long and even in width. Also known as Chinese okra. Approx 20 sds/pkg. Ridge gourds have a long growing season of 100 to 180 frost-free days until harvest. If you live in an area with short growing season, you can start seeds indoors four weeks prior to transplanting outdoors.
(Luffa acutangula) Madhuri is a highly productive ridge gourd, with a fruit length of 13". with a wide blossom end. The thick flesh is sweet and crisp. A healthy vegetable high in fiber, and minerals. Easy to grow and resistant to insect damage. Ridge gourds have a long growing season of 100 to 180 frost-free days until harvest. If you live in an area with short growing season, you can start seeds indoors four weeks prior to transplanting outdoors.
Ridge gourd is sometimes referred to as Chinese okra.
is an edible type of winter squash with a bulbous shape. It has a sweet, nutty buttery taste that is similar to pumpkin or sweet potato. It has a salmon-yellow skin and orange flesh. As it ripens, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It grows on a vine, so support should be provided. Butternut squash can be roasted, pureed or mashed into soups, casseroles, breads, and muffins. It is notable for its ability to be stored for long periods when stored in a cool dry place. T,OP Approximately 20 seeds/pkt.
Spongegourd or Galka (Luffa cylindrica)- This is a smooth skin type luffa, closely related to ridge gourd. The fruit is edible only when immature and is cooked like zucchini. The matured fruit forms sponge-like fibers inside. The dried matured fruits are often used as scrubbers, cleaning pads or bath sponges. Fruits are cylindrical-shaped, 8-12" long and 3" across, and with green skin and white flesh. Approx 20-25 seeds/pkg.
Sponge gourd or luffa is eaten as a vegetable in it's immature stage. Also known as Galka in India. The sweet honey sponge gourd is our special selected variety, vigorous and prolific. Fruit is green in color, 2 in wide and 10 in long, weighing up to 8 oz. It has excellent taste. Maturity is in 45 days after transplanting.
This is the most common variety of snake gourd found in Southern India. One can expect gourds that are 3-4 feet long. This vine plant grows vigorously and is very prolific. In India it is a common sight to see them growing with rocks tied to their ends so they don't curl. Approx. 10-15 seeds/ pkt.