High Yield Bottle Gourd Farming
Bottle Gourd is one of the popular vegetable crops that is cultivated in SouthEast Asia and it is extensively grown in India. The crop originated from tropical Africa and thereafter it spread across the world.
The crop has a similar appearance like a bottle, hence the name Bottle Gourd. Bottle Gourd belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae and genus Lagenaria and it is also known as Calabus, Lauki, White flower Gourd, Long melon, New Guinea Bean and Tasmania Bean.
The fruits of the crop are available throughout the year and it is a vigorous, annual and climbing vine which has large leaves and lush appearance. The fruits are fleshy, varying in shape and size. The crop starts flowering just after 2 months of Sowing and can be harvested in three months.
The flowers are solitary, chalk white in colour and open at night. It is cultivated under rain fed conditions but the crop can be available throughout the year if there is enough irrigation facility.
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The vegetables are available at very tender age and can be used for cooking purposes and the matured fruits (or hard shell of the crop) can be used as water jugs, domestic utensils, floats for fishing nets or musical instruments. The leaves of the crop have good medicinal properties and it is also used for making a decoction that is used for curing jaundice.
The commercial cultivation of Bottle Gourd can earn you decent profits, if you follow proper crop management practices. In India, it is grown in almost all the states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh etc and Bihar being the largest producer of Bottle Gourd.
We will learn more about Bottle Gourd & its Cultivation in this article.
Health Benefits of Bottle Gourd
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Bottle Gourd is a favourite vegetable of every dietician as it is made up of almost 90% water, which means it is very low in calories. Apart from this, it has a negligible amount of Fats, high Fibre content and a wide array of other essential nutrients.
It is also extremely low in Carbohydrates and has a very low Glycaemic Index which makes it suitable to be consumed by diabetic peoples. Also, it is alkaline in nature so it is a great vegetable to add in your diet if you are facing any type of urinary infections.
This low calorie vegetable is packed with both soluble and insoluble fibres which is very helpful in keeping your gut flora healthy. It is low in Saturated Fats and high in Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Zinc, Thiamine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese and other essential minerals like Sodium and Potassium.
The health benefits of Bottle Gourd are as follows:
- It is good for digestion
- It has cooling properties
- It is good for diabetic patients
- The juice of Bottle Gourd helps in weight management
- It helps in reducing blood sugar levels
- It helps in regard to inflammations in the liver and kidney
- It helps to reduce constipation
- It acts as a good remedy for insomnia patients
- It has a good remedial feature for urinary infections
Commercial Varieties of Bottle Gourd
There are many varieties of Bottle Gourd that are locally developed for commercial purposes. It is always recommended to choose a high yielding seed variety to get quality fruits and the selected seed should be disease resistant.
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Some of the commercial varieties of Bottle Gourd that is cultivated in India are:
- Pusa Naveen
- Arka Bahar
- Summer Prolific Round
- Summer Prolific Long
- Pusa Manjiri
- Pusa Meghdoot
Climate Requirement for Bottle Gourd Farming
Bottle Gourd thrives well in hot and moist climatic conditions. The crop can tolerate a cool climate better than muskmelon and watermelon crops but it cannot tolerate Frost. The optimum temperature for its cultivation is 20 to 30 degree Celsius.
Soil Requirement for Bottle Gourd Farming
Bottle Gourd can be cultivated on a wide range of soils. However, sandy loamy soils which are rich in organic matter and have good drainage are best suited for its cultivation to get high quality crops and optimum yield.
It is always recommended to go for a soil test before planning any type of large scale production of the crop. The optimum soil pH for Bottle Gourd is from 6.5 to 8.0. The crop is suitable for river bed cultivation because of the tap root system which supports Vines for a longer period.
Best Season for Bottle Gourd Farming
Usually in Southeast Asia, it is grown as a summer crop during January to the end of February and as a Rainy season crop or Monsoon crop during June to July, but it can be grown throughout the year with proper irrigation facilities.
Land preparation in Bottle Gourd Farming
The land should be brought to a fine tilth stage by plowing it thoroughly about 5 to 6 times. The field should be free from any type of weed from the previous vegetable crops. Any type of deficiency of micronutrients in the soil should be incorporated into it and to make the soil rich, organic matter should be added during the field preparation.
Propagation in Bottle Gourd Farming
The propagation in Bottle Gourd Is usually done by seeds.
The seed rate depends on the type of soil and the variety of crops used. Generally, on average, the seed rate of 3 to 6 kg per hectare is used for Bottle Gourd Farming.
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The Bottle Gourd seeds should be treated with Pseudomonas fluorescens @ 10 grams or Trichoderma viride @ 4 grams or Carbendazim @ 2 grams per kilogram of seeds before sowing.
Sowing of Seeds in Bottle Gourd Farming
The seeds of Bottle Gourd can be grown in containers or on raised beds. If you are opting for a container for its farming, circular pots should be chosen or grow bags with 16″ diameter with the minimum depth of 8 to 10 inch and the container should have proper drainage holes at the bottom.
It should have an ideal growing medium for the seeds which is 1 part Garden soil + 1 part Coco Peat + 1 part Vermicompost or 2 part Garden soil + 1 Part Organic manure.
The container should be filled with the growth medium of your choice and the seeds should be at the centre of a pot and if you are using raised beds then 2 seeds per spot should be sown with a spacing of 3 by 3 feet.
The seeds should be placed on the surface of the medium and the surface should be covered with a growing medium. The sown seed bed should be watered immediately by a light shower using a watering can.
Before sowing the seeds, a good quality organic manure should be added in the soil with a 2:1 ratio. Any type of Organic manure can be added like a well rotted cow dung manure or farmyard manure or compost or vermicompost.
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Sowing Method & Spacing in Bottle Gourd Farming
The seeds are sown by Dibbling method at a space of 2 to 3 m × 1 m × 1.5 m. In general, 2 to 3 seeds are sown in a pit at 2.5 cm to 3 cm depth.
Manures & Fertilisers in Bottle Gourd Farming
A well composted Farmyard manure @ 25 tons per hectare should be applied as a Basal dose, along with half dose of Nitrogen of 35 kg and full doses of P2O5 of 25 kg and K2O of 25 kg to cover the manure and fertilizer requirement in Bottle Gourd cultivation and the remaining half dose of Nitrogen of 35 kg should be applied in several split doses at fortnightly intervals.
Application of Azospirillum and Phosphobacteria @ 2 kg/ha and Pseudomonas @ 3 kg/ha along with Farmyard manure @ 50 kg and Neem cake @ 100 kg before the last plowing is also recommended.
Intercultural Operations in Bottle Gourd Farming
The weeds can be controlled by 2 to 3 hoeing during the initial stage of plant growth. You can even use weedicides.
Bottle Gourd is very responsive to manure and fertilisers, so appropriate fertilizers should be used. The pandals should be erected when the plants start vining and the weeding and raking of the soil should be carried out at the time of applying the fertilizers.
Thereafter, during the rainy season, it should be earthen up.
Irrigation Requirement in Bottle Gourd Farming
Irrigation is very essential before dibbling the seeds in the field and thereafter once a week is enough. If it is a summer crop, frequent irrigation is required and for the rainy season, there is no need for irrigation. Ensure to drain out the excess water from the field to avoid water logging. Drip irrigation is a better option in the Bottle Gourd cultivation as it has many advantages.
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Training & Pruning in Bottle Gourd Farming
To have a good vegetative growth, proper Training and Pruning is very essential in Bottle Gourd farming. The Bottle Gourd plants should be trained on bamboo like sticks or bowers to make the plant roots to expose and tap more sunlight.
The axillary buds of vines should be removed till the vines reach the bowers height, and thereafter the apical bud should be removed at 10 to 15 cm below the bower to allow 2 to 3 branches to spread on the bower.
After the formation of 4 to 5 fruits, the Vines should be pruned again allowing only 2 to 3 axillary buds to grow on primary vines. Also, remove any yellow and pale coloured older leaves near the bottom portion.
Pests & Diseases in Bottle Gourd Farming
The common pests & diseases found in Bottle Gourd cultivation are:
- Fruit fly
- Epilachna beetle
- Red pumpkin beetle
- Plant lice
- Downy mildew
- Powdery mildew
These can be controlled by taking proper precautions and applying appropriate fertilizers and chemicals.
Remove and destroy the egg masses, grubs and adults occurring on the leaves. Also, remove and destroy the infected or decayed fruits.
Check for the infections regularly. You can even contact your local Horticulture department or experts for identifying the pests and diseases and getting proper solutions for them.
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Harvesting & Yield in Bottle Gourd Farming
Bottle Gourd fruits should be harvested when they are still green and tender. A sharp knife should be used to cut the fruits from the vine. Any delay in harvest can cause the Bottle Gourd to become rotten or dried.
The harvesting should be done after 10 days of insecticide or fungicide application and it should be washed thoroughly in water before sending to local markets. Healthy Bottle Gourds can be kept on the plants until it dries for preparing the seedling for the next crop.
The yielding of the crop depends on the cultivar, soil type, irrigation and the crop management practices. On an average, you can expect a yield of about 100 to 200 quintals per hectare with good field management practices.
Caring in Bottle Gourd Farming
- The Bottle Gourd seeds start to germinate within the first 6 to 8 days and second week onwards the seedlings start to grow into a small plant. After the second week, only single seeding at one spot should be kept and the weak, small and lagging seedlings should be cut off with a pair of scissors.
- Bottle Gourds require full sunlight to grow so make sure that the raised beds or containers get sufficient sunlight.
- The potted Bottle Gourd plant should be watered everyday in summer and for an evenly shower, watering can should be used to water the plants or Drip irrigation system can also be used.
- Bottle Gourd is an aggressive climber so they need a lot of space to grow, so strong trellis support up to a height of 5 to 6 feet should be developed by available materials like pipes, bamboo, ropes, wire etc for the plant.
- After 45 days of sowing, one tablespoon of NPK fertilizer @ 15:15:15 per plant should be provided or a mix handful of vermicompost should be added in the soil around each plant.
- Keep an eye out for the early signs of any type of insect or fungal or any other infections and spray appropriate medicines.
- By the end of the second month i.e 50 to 60 days after sowing, the Bottle Gourd climbers start to flower.
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- The Raw Bottle Gourd can be harvested after 2 months of sowing the seeds and thereafter, it can be continued upto 3 months.
- Pollination is very important in Bottle Gourd plants as insufficient pollination can hamper their growth. If sufficient pollination does not take place, the female flower initially grows but dies and falls off eventually and to increase pollination, you can even opt for hand pollination using a brush.
- Make sure that you don’t over water the plants because too much water can drown your seedlings and deprive their roots of air which can lead to wilting and the seedlings might eventually die.
- Growing conditions like moisture, improper soil temperature, over watering or under watering can become a hindrance in the path of seeds germination.