Bitter gourd is one of the favourite vegetables of any Keralite and stands in the forefront in terms of multiple health benefits. Bitter gourd farming is undertaken in China, Malaysia, Philipinnes, Australia besides India.
While we condemn the bitter taste, the vegetable is rich in iron, protein, calcium, vitamin A, B, C among others. It helps in maintaining the blood sugar levels as it has a polypeptide which has been shown to control diabetes.
The other benefits of Karela includes cleansing the liver, boosts immune system, helps in weight loss and for glowing skin.
Priya, Preeti, Priyanka, CO1, MDU 1 are the important varieties. Among these, the Kerala Agriculture Research Institute has taken up Priya, Preeti and Priyanka varieties suitable to be cultivated in Kerala.
Round the clock irrigation facility will help in cultivating bitter gourd throughout the year. A fertile and well-drained soil is good for bitter gourd farming. If one is undertaking farming for seeds, then October, November is the best season.
When selecting seeds for farming, de-seed it from a ripe bitter gourd and if the seeds float after cleaning it, then it should be discarded. The quality seeds must be mixed in ash and then dried first in shade and later on in light sun.
If you are planning to do bitter gourd farming in 1 cent of land, then you may need 20 to 25 gram seeds. When sowing seeds, dried cow dung, compost must be applied on the top soil till three fourth of the pit. During rainy season, instead of digging a pit, we could sow the seeds and put the soil over it in a heap.
In a single pit, one could sow 4 to 5 seeds one and a half cm depth. The seeds are soaked in water overnight for better germination. Manures are applied and harvesting is done when the fruits are tender. The vine must not be damaged when picking the fruits. Even after harvest, seeds continue to mature inside the gourd.
Harvesting could be done after 2 months from sowing and must be harvested early morning.