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It is spring... Time for garden enthusiasts like me to wake up and prepare the backyard to plant our own vegetables... Even people with very little space use their terrace to plant vegetables in containers. Gourd varieties like Ridge gourd, Bitter gourd and Snake gourd are some of the popular vegetables which can be very easily grown in the home garden. These plants do not require much attention. However, by putting in a little more effort you will enjoy a great yield from the same plant from which you used to harvest very few fruits only.

A step-by-step instructable on growing Ridge Gourd at your home garden... These methods apply to other varieties of gourds like snake gourd and bitter gourd also.

Step 1: Seeds

Let us start with seeds...

Either you can save seeds from previous year's fruits allowing one or two to fully mature and dry in the plant itself or you can buy seeds from shops.

in the first picture you can see the ridge gourd seeds being collected from last year's dried fruit. The seeds are protected by the sponge-like network of fibers. You can extract the seeds from the fruit whenever you are planning to plant.

The second picture shows the seeds stored in cow dung. You can harvest the matured seeds and press them into flattened fresh cow dung and dry it in shade. Cow dung is natural protector and will not allow any pests to damage the seeds. You can break the dried  cow dung cake and take out the seeds any time.

The third picture is of the store-bought seeds. These seeds are treated with chemical pesticides and are artificially colored to show the presence of pesticides. Take care while handling store-bought, chemically treated seeds and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Step 2: Pit Preparation, Germinating and Planting

Preparing the pit

  • Select an area where you can erect a trellis to support the plant, which also receives full sun light.
  • Mark 2 feet x 2 feet area and clean all vegetation
  • Dig a pit of about one foot in depth. Keep the soil separately
  • Mix compost with this soil and refill the pit


Directly planting the seeds

Either you can plant the seeds directly in the prepared pit or germinate the seeds separately and transplant. You can see in the first picture that I have planted seeds holes directly in the prepared pit and watered. You can thin out to four or five when the seeds germinate and grow up

Second picture shows the dug-out soil being mixed with compost

Germinating and transplanting seedlings

You can also germinate the seeds separately and then transplant. You can use paper tea cups, polythene bags or any other container for this.

Another natural method is to wrap the seeds in banana stem with moist soil. The banana stem will help in retaining the moisture and will not allow the seeds to go dry. You can open up after about ten days and transplant the sprouted seeds in the prepared pit.

Step 3: Care for the Young Plant

I have transplanted two seedlings to the prepared pit. These photographs are of transplanted seedlings after 15 days. You need to provide good support to these young plants till they reach the height of the trellis.

I have provided support with coconut leaf stalk and tied the seedlings loosely with fiber from Banana stem

Step 4: Lateral Shoots and Tendrils


Lateral shoots grow from every node of the plant. Remove all laterals below the trellis level. These laterals will hinder the growth of main plant and make it unmanageable.

The tendrils, a specialized stem with a threadlike shape, are used by climbing plants for support by twining around nearby hosts. Pinch away all tendrils. We do not need them as we will provide support and guide the plant on the trellis system.

Step 5: Trellis

The plants need a trellis system to grow and spread. You can make one using timber poles and GI wires about seven to eight feet above the ground level

Step 6: Pruning and Training

Pruning and training the vine over the trellis is very important to get maximum yield from the plant.

  • Allow the plant to grow without any laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes above the top of the trellis
  • Now prune the main stem
  • Lightly tie the stem with the trellis wire using a string. I have used the fiber from the banana stem for this
  • You may find laterals growing from the nodes. Do not allow any laterals below the trellis
  • Count each lateral to 12 nodes and prune the rest. Remove all tendrils also
  • Train the vine over the trellis system by tying the laterals with a string.

There are different views as to pruning the laterals after how many nodes. Some people suggest to prune after 5 nodes. But in my experience, I have noticed that the nodes between fourth and tenth produce good quality fruits, so I prune the shoots after every 12th node.

Step 7: Watering

Water judiciously. Under-watering as well as over-watering will destroy the plant. You can visually inspect the plant everyday and water as required. There is no set rule.

Step 8: Fertilizer / Manure for the Plant

If you raise chicken, goat or any cattle, you can use their waste as manure for the plant. We collect goat dung from our baby goat and add it to the plant. We also make compost from kitchen waste using an old broken bucket as compost bin. The digested slurry from a bio-gas plant also makes a very good manure.

Step 9: Prevention Against Pests

Normally, gourds are rarely attacked by pests. However, prevention is better than cure...

We do not use any chemical pesticides at our home garden. We use a paste made with equal amounts of onion, ginger, garlic and chilies, dilute it with water and spray on the foliage. You can use a hand sprayer or just spray it on the plant with your hands. The solution is not harmful like chemicals. However, take care not to get this in your eyes as it may hurt...

Step 10: Male and Female Flowers

Shortly after training the vine on the trellis, you may find lots of flowers on the plant. All gourd varieties produce male and female flowers. A female flower can be distinguished by the small fruit attached to the flower. The male flower is just plain without any fruits. You can see the male and female flowers in the pictures here.

Step 11: Pollinating the Flowers

Gourds have separate male and female flowers. The female flower with a small fruit attached to it needs to be pollinated to grow into a matured fruit. Honey bees and some insects help in pollinating the flowers. However you can find lots of unpollinated young female flowers withering away. It is a good practice to always hand-pollinate gourds (this is possible only in kitchen garden in a small scale). Pluck a fresh male flower and rub it over a female flower to transfer pollen. You can use a soft brush also for pollination.

We got lots of honey bees in the garden which help in pollinating flowers. They are friendly and never attack unless disturbed. However, use of chemical pesticides will kill or drive away the bees from your garden

Step 12: Fruits of Your Labor

The pollinated female flowers slowly mature into fruits ready for harvest. You can see here that an unpollinated female flower has withered and died.

Step 13: Harvest in Time

Harvest the fruits at young stage before the skin becomes thick, otherwise the fruits will become inedible with lots of fiber. If you find any ripe gourd, just leave it in the plant itself. You can then collect the seeds when it completely dries out.

Step 14: Bottom Line

Hope this instructable is helpful for people new to growing gourds at your backyard.

Do not have space to grow your own vegetables...? Don't worry... you can turn your terrace or window sill into a mini garden and grow in pots, grow bags or in plastic buckets.

Here you can see a picture of Ridge gourds grown in a pot at our home and the hand rails of the staircase used as trellis...

If there's a will, there's a way. Enjoy growing your own vegetables...
Sir please give me your kind reply
Sir this is the problem. Please show me the solution and what care that I can take
<p>My plant is growing well but the fruit seems to be stunted. The gourds grow but remain quite small. Also, some fruit seems to be turning yellow. Would greatly appreciate some advice. Please see photos.</p>
<p>Thank you for the instructions. I have started with bitter gourds this time. I was bit confused at the pruning instructions.</p><p>1. Allow the plant to grow without any laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes above the top of the trellis - Do we count to 12 node from the bottom of the plant or from the beginning of the trellis?</p><p>2. You may find laterals growing from the nodes -- Aren't these laterals already pruned as part of above step as we are removing laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes before cutting the main stem?. </p><p>Appreciate your response.</p>
1. we remove all laterals below the trellis so that a single stem of the plant grows up to the trellis. Then count 12 nodes or let the plant grow further about 2 to 2-1/2 ft and pinch of the growing end. Then you can bend the portion above the trellis without breaking and tie it flat over the trellis<br><br>2. Most of the nodes above the trellis may not have laterals when you cut of the main stem. So naturally you will find laterals growing from most of the nodes above the trellis<br><br>Bitter gourds are very easy to grow and do not require much pruning and training over the trellis. Only thing is, remove all laterals below to trellis to make it manageable
Thanks much for the response. Very helpful.
<p>Count each lateral to 12 nodes and prune the rest...did not understanf this part</p>
A node is a point in a vine from where leaves and flowers grow. You will get good quality gourds / fruits between 5th and 10th node. So count 12 such points and pinch of the rest of the vine at the growing end
<p>Thank you. I am growing them for the first time. Do these gourds require full 8 hrs son or 3-4 hrs is enuf</p>
<p>Give them as much sunlight as possible. 3-4 hours also good if you are growing them in your balcony which gets limited sunlight</p>
<p>Please put Luffa in the title and key words.........so more people can find this! I will be on my fourth year of growing luffas and I adore using them for dish scrubbing and in the shower. Thanks for your instructable!!</p>
Thank you for the suggestion. I have added &quot;Luffa&quot; to key words
<p>I want to add that the growing season is short in Northern Illinois so often I have to dry my luffa gourds out in the microwave and then peel them...I try not to do this to save the seeds, however.</p>
All my bitter gourds are turning yellow at an early stage itself.... They are not growing fully... What to do ?
There may be many reasons.<br>1. They are not properly pollinated. Try hand pollinating<br>2. Due to extreme climates like cold weather or dry high temperature<br>3. Moisture condition. If the plant is in a container, you need to water few times as required to keep the soil moist. If it is in ground make sure you are not over-watering the plant.<br>4. Do not over-fertilize
Sir i have planted the ridge gourd.and its been a month and above..U may see the fruit is ripenning before the flower blooms.There is no way to pollinate.Can u suggest me a remedy please do reply.Thank you
<p>Initially it may happen. Do not over water and do not add more compost / fertilizer. You can also prune and train your plant on a trellis. You will get good male and female flowers soon. Look for them early morning and hand-pollinate the flowers</p>
<p>It is possible to propagated the bitter gourd by undergroun stem?</p>
I have not tried it. you can try it and post your results for others to follow
What is a node? Thanks for your instructions. I am ready to harvest my very first bottle gourd.
If you closely look at the plant, you will find leaves and buds growing from places along the stem of the plant. That place is called a Node. Enjoy your harvest...
Is it points where both leaves and buds grow together or also points where just leaves grow?
<p>points where both leaves and buds grow together and also points where just leaves grow are all known as nodes</p>
Thanks. I wasn't very strict about following your instructions this time and if I am lucky, may have 2 more weeks before it gets too cold. But your point on no laterals below the trellis is very important. But my trellis is only about 4 feet tall on a raised bed. It is 3x5. Do you think I will be able to get a greater yield in this space by pruning below the trellis?
<p>you can get good yield as height of the trellis does not affect it. only thing is you have to crawl below the trellis to harvest the vegetables</p>
Thank you!
<p>I have planted a few karela seeds and now have some very healthy young plants which are growing robustly. I am preparing to build a structure to support their growth. </p><p>Will this plant do well and produce fruit on a trellis which is strictly vertical with no horizontal plane? </p><p>I'm asking because all of the images I have seen show this plant growing and producing fruit on a horizontal structure. In these photos the plant climbs up the sides and then across the top but I only see fruit hanging from top.</p><p>I only have room to build a trellis with one vertical plane. I can't imagine why this would prevent the plant from fruiting as it seems illogical but I thought I'd ask. </p>
If you do not have room for making horizontal plane, no problem for karela. They will find their own support
I have ridge gourd plant where leaves are turning yellow in color. I have another pot which has an healthy growth Please see the photos request expert advice
If the yellowing leaves are at the lower level of the plant and the plant at the growing end are healthy, it is normal as older leaves will dry and fall off. If the entire plant is affected like this, then it may be a fungal infection. Better to uproot and discard the plant to prevent it affecting the healthier one
<p>hello sir</p><p>my bottle gourd vine produced a large number of small guards but none of them grew to an adult fruit and fall. what may be the reason of not producing any bottle gourds. please help me what will i do.please mail me at amitnagarvfx@gmail.com</p>
This may be due to non-pollinating of young female flowers. try to hand pollinate the flowers early morning. I hope you will get good fruits soon
<p>sir following your instruction iam growing ridge gourd for the first time.plant has reached the trellis,it took 28 nodes to reach there.i pruned the main stem after 12 more nodes over the trellis.now laterals are growing frrom all these nodes.my doubt is shoud we need to prune these laterals too after 12 nodes? and shouldl we prune all the tendrils above the trellis too?again if more branches come from these laterals-what to do? since iam growing this iln a big pot should i let the plant keep on growing,when will it produce flowers?</p><p>laterals too after 12 nodes?</p>
Yes, prune all those laterals after 12 nodes and also the tendrils if possible. Most of the male and female flowers appear between 4th and 10th nodes. If you do not find any flowers in the laterals prune them also. Provide good support as you have planted it in a pot. Do not add too much of nitrogen based fertilisers. This will increase vigorous plant growth but less flowers
<p>Dear sir,</p><p>I have planted Sponge guard and bottle guard together in one planter. However, sponge guard plant is drying up while bottle guard is doing fine. What may be the reason and remedy? watering is in time.</p>
it seems that some insect cut through the sponge gourd vine. Please look all along the vine. Prune at the point where the insect damaged the vine and it will regrow
Hello Sir,<br><br>I am a starter in home gardening. I am planning to plant a bitter gourd in a pot and make it climb on my kitchen grill. Can you please share your valuable tips and pest control method to grow a healthy kitchen garden to my email id adwait.sawantsg@gmail.com<br> Also,how much time is required for the plant to have flowers ?
<p>Please see attached files sent to your mail on growing Bitter gourds</p>
<p>I planted bitter gourd on a trellis over a year ago. Lately the leaves have been showing holes and also turning brown. It is also not producing the number of fruits as before. I originally had two vines but that has increased with self-sowing.</p><p>Is it advisable to uproot the vines and replant after amending the soil OR to cut back the vines? I have looked at the vines but they have interwoven over the months. Note: we have year-round sun (and rain - no cold weather).</p>
The plants are more than one year old. So, better to uproot and plant new ones. As you have sunlight all year round with no cold weather, you can grow gourds any time you like.
Hello sir,<br>I am facing a problem with bottle gourd plant. Fruits get infected at earlier stage as shown in the pic. What could be the reason and please suggest.
These spots on the young fruit may be caused by fruit flies. If you find fruits like these, prune and discard as they may not grow into healthy vegetable. Most of the farmers use chemical pesticides which is not advisable. You can spray the young fruits with few drops of neem oil mixed with about one liter of water. Alternately, make ginger + garlic + chili paste, mix small quantities in water and spray on the young fruits
<p>hello sir really very informative steps i had started a kitchen garden many vegetables i have harvested but only ridge gourd it had been spread very widely but there is no male or female flowers for the other wine i have receive some male flowers no female and the trellis i have planned horizontally to the wall do it matters i never had pruning will it help me out will be thankful if u reply</p>
You need to prune unnecessary vines. you can train the vines horizontally to the wall, no problem, but make sure the plant gets some sun light. Too much of Nitrogen based fertilizers will help the plant to grow vigorously without any flowers. So stop adding fertilizers. Proper pruning and training the plant will get you more flowers and fruits
<p>Very nice information...Thank you for that. I have also planted gourds in my garden but the leaves and some time also the fruits when small gets dried out. what could be the reason? Please guide.</p>
May be due to over-watering. Water only when required.
<p>Hi - Very nice info on growing gourds.. This is my first year growing so i am a bit confused on the pruning part - When u say cut the main stem after 12 nodes, do u mean count 12 nodes from the bottom of the plant to the top or 12 nodes from the top of the trellis n prune it. Please clarify. Am assuming the same technique works for bitter and bottle gourds as well.</p><p>Thanks !</p>
Count 12 nodes above the trellis and prune. If you count 12 nodes from the bottom of the plant then your plant will not reach the trellis. All other laterals, count from where they started growing. You can follow the same technique for other gourd varieties also.
<p>hello, this is all wonderful and helpful information. Thank you so much!! This is my 1st year growing gourds and i already have two beautiful teenage gourds which i hand pollinated 8 days ago..i had a question to the approximate yield of each plant. I have 6 bottle gourd plants and all are doing well... According to your experience, how many gourds can i harvest each week? </p><p>I have a mild white fly infestation from a near by hibiscus plant. I see around 1-2 white flies on each alternate leaf.. What can i use to stop the infestation? Please advise...</p><p>I also have tomato, cucumber and pepper plants within a small backyard garden and i m worried it will spread...thank you again for all the info and your advice.</p>
with six bottle gourd plants, you will harvest more than you can consume. the yield depends on how you manage your plants by pruning, providing support, watering, pest control and fertilizing.<br><br>The mild white fly infestation are caused by mealybugs. trim the most affected parts and throw them far away. Hibiscus plants are easily affected with these bugs and they spread to everything surrounding it.<br>You can remove them by spraying a water jet. Otherwise wash the affected parts with kerosene mixed with water.<br><br>Do not over-water as to much moisture will increase the infestation.<br>

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