Bitter gourd in summary :
Latin name : Momordica charantia
Common name : Bitter gourd, bitter cucumber
Family : Cucurbits
Type : Fruit vegetable
Height : 2 m
Planting distance : 80 cm
Exposure : Sunny
Ground : Rich in humus, loose
Planting : April
Harvest : August to October
The bitter gourd gives fruit to the silhouette to say the least original : an oblong and elongated shape, thinned at the ends. Their main characteristic is the warty appearance of its skin. The latter changes from green to yellow when the fruits reach maturity. Native to Asia, it is also widely cultivated in Africa, tropical America, Réunion and the West Indies. Elsewhere it has less success, in part because of its pronounced bitterness.
Planting bitter gourd
Bitter gourd is an annual climbing plant that appreciates the Sun, as well as a land fertile and furniture. If your soil does not meet these criteria, a few amendments will be expected the fall before planting.
To properly arrange your soil for planting a bitter plant, you will need to:
- make a manure by spreading manure or well-rotted compost;
- dig the soil with a fork-spade to mix the organic matter well with the soil;
- for loosen a little more the substrate, you can incorporate wood ash into it.
Native to hot countries, bitter gourd needs heat to flourish. That’s why a culture under a greenhouse is recommended if you live in a region with a rather cold climate.
In April, arrange your seeds in pots or terrine. The substrate should be light and fertile. A mixture of soil and sand is particularly suitable. Protect your crops from the cold and especially from light.
When weather conditions allow (around at the end of May) and the plants have a few leaves, select the most vigorous and transplant them in the ground, spacing them at least 80 cm apart. Don't forget to install a support (trellis) to facilitate the elevation of bitter gourd.
Smart tip : 24 hours before sowing, soak your seeds in water. You will then facilitate the germination.
Cultivation and maintenance of bitter gourd
Once planted and installed, bitter cucumber does not require special maintenance or pruning. The only gesture that you will have to repeat regularly will be watering. To limit water loss, do not hesitate to place a thick mulch on each plant.
Diseases and pests:
Bitter gourd can be the target of slugs and snails, especially when its leaves are still young. On the disease side, it can be affected by powdery mildew and mildew, but is resistant to them.
Harvest and conservation
The fruits of bitter gourd can be picked when ripe, when they are yellow. Their sweet and blood-red pulp then contains many seeds, reusable for your next plantings. The harvest takes place from the month from August until October. However, the bitterness of the fruits is very pronounced when they are ripe, so you can pick them while they are still green.
Harvest as and when you need it. The fruits of bitter gourd do not keep well and will only last a few days in the refrigerator.
Bitter gourd in the kitchen
Close relative to cucumber, bitter gourd is prepared in the same way: cut the fruits in half lengthwise and cut them disgorging in salt for 30 minutes.
Once prepared, you can eat them peeled, as well cooked than raw. In addition, just like pickles, it is possible to confide in vinegar.