Pointed gourd is an Indian staple vegetable which is often used in different cuisines. If you are wondering how to grow pointed gourd then this article can serve as your perfect ally.
Poor germination and difficulty in determining gender of the plants prior to flowering impedes its seeds from being used in the planting process. If you establish this crop from its seeds then it might have 50% non-fruiting male plants. However, the best thing about pointed gourd is that it can be cultivated round the year.
What is Pointed Gourd?
Pointed gourd is similar to squash and cucumber. It serves as a rich source of minerals and vitamins which has led to its massive usage in stews, soups, desserts and curries. The plant has been accredited with lowering down of blood sugar and cholesterol levels in human body.
Pointed gourd has proved to be useful in improving digestion and treating constipation. It is often prescribed by doctors to be a part of various weight loss programs. Parwal has also gained popularity given its ability to bring anti-aging effects, reduction in flu symptoms and blood purification work.
It is commonly grown in West Bengal. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Apart from India it is also grown in parts of Bangladesh. This vegetable is known as Parmal, Palwal, Paraval (Gujarathi & Marathi), Patolam (Malayalam), Kadu Padavala Kayi (Kannada), Parwal, Patol (Assamese & Bengali), Chedu Potla or Kommu Potla (Telegu) and Kaadu Padaval.
Some hybrid varieties of this plant are Swarna Alaukik, Rajendra Parwal-1, Rajendra Parwal-2 and Swarna Rekha. The last one thrives best in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Eastern UP.
Pointed gourd is a perennial plant which grows like a vine and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It produces green fruits having white stripes which can be grown on trellis. This nutrient rich veggie has mushy flesh and crunchy seeds which can also be consumed. It shouldn’t be confused with Tindora or Ivy Gourd although both of them look similar.
Also read: Growing Artichokes in Containers
Cultivation and History
Pointed Gourd requires a moderately warm and humid climate for its proper growth. Winter months render the plant inactive and it is also susceptible to water-logging which creates the requirement of properly-drained sandy loam soil.
You need to ensure a female to male plant ratio of 9:1 at the time of planting. Since pointed gourd is a dioecious plant, only one sex is determined for a single plant. Your total yield would thus be zero if all the plants present in your garden belong to a particular gender. This makes it imperative to maintain the gender ratio for getting best results.
The land should also be ploughed for 2-3 times until the soil attains a fine tilth stage. You can further enhance the soil fertility by applying good manure. The distance between two plants should be 50 cm while that between two queues need to be 1 meter.
How to Grow Pointed Gourd (Parwal)? A Step by Step Guide
You can propagate pointed gourd through cuttings, seeds and root suckers. While proceeding with seeds, you need to follow the steps mentioned below:
- After getting hold of the seeds from a ripe pointed gourd fruit or a garden centre, you will have to soak them overnight for boosting up its germination probability.
- Next you need to sow the seeds directly in your garden.
- The weak ones shall have to be thinned out once 5-6 leaves appear on the young plants.
- Young plants become ready for transplanting on the passage of 2-3 weeks from sowing.
In case of propagation from cuttings, you will have to use 5-6 inches of plant cutting for growing. Tuberous roots shall have to be dug out for propagating the plant from root suckers during early spring. These have to be subdivided and replanted again. People suffering from space constraints can grow pointed gourds in pots by following the below mentioned steps:
- Primarily you need to get hold of a 16-20 inches pot with adequate drainage holes. You can transplant it to a larger pot once the plant becomes bigger.
- Well-draining sand and loamy soil should be used for potting after blending it properly with aged manure or compost.
- You should place the pot in a place which receives adequate sunlight.
- Although the soil needs to be kept moist, you should prevent it from getting waterlogged.
- A wire or trellis can be used for supporting the plant so that it gets to make optimum use of vertical space.
Pointed gourd thrives best in well-draining soil. It doesn’t yield good results in compact or heavy soil. You should ideally opt for fertile soil having pH level of 6-6.5 for best result. The soil can be further enriched or amended using leaf mould and similar organic matters. You can mix some cow dung manure before planting for boosting up the yield.
The plant should be kept at a place receiving adequate sunlight. Although the plant can grow in the shade, its fruit production gets hampered in this way. The vines should be safeguarded from the afternoon sun while the roots are getting established.
Pointed gourd loves temperate and tropical weather conditions where it can thrive in ample sunlight. Both humid and hot climates are well suited for the growth of pointed gourd. The temperature needs to range between 30-35-degree Celsius during this time. Your chosen spot should ideally receive 5-6 hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis.
This vining plant attains dormancy during winter months. You should thus plant and harvest pointed gourd before the mercury takes a dip. Planting should be done once the danger of frost is over if you are thinking of enjoying the crop during the same year.
How to Plant Pointed Gourd?
Pointed gourd can be propagated either through root suckers or vine cutting. You can also opt for seed propagation although the chances of germination get drastically reduced in this case. You should maintain a minimum distance of 1.5-2 meters between each pointed gourd plant while cultivating the vine. Let’s now take a look at the means of planting pointed gourd:
- For root propagation you will have to dig tuberous roots during early spring from the soil. They will have to be directly planted back into the soil and watered on a regular basis. You can enhance the chances of fruiting by maintaining a planting ratio of 1:9 in terms of male and female plants.
- In the case of vine cutting, you need to first cut off a 1-2 feet vine from a plant which is at least 1-2 years old. This cutting needs to have between 8-10 nodes. Next you need to defoliate all the leaves from the vine except 2-3 leaves. The cutting will have to be planted in a pot containing a mixture of 30% coding manure and 70% soil. You will have to regularly mist the pot and transplant it into the garden pit between the months of February to March.
You should regularly water the plants during the dry summer months. However, the propensity of watering shall have to be reduced during winter months. The same also holds true during monsoon season where you will have to drain out excess water from the soil. Pointed gourd can tolerate draught to a certain extent although it is advised to keep the soil moist by deeply watering the plant once a week.
You should water the plant on every alternate day during the fruiting and flowering period as this leads to a better yield. The watering frequency should be every 3-5 days during the initial growth stage. You can increase the frequency to every alternate day once the plant starts bearing fruits and flowers. The soil should be kept moist throughout this entire period although water logging is strictly prohibited.
- You can mix cow dung manure into the soil prior to planting pointed gourd.
- Alternatively, the 10-10-10 balanced liquid fertilizer can be used on an occasional basis.
- Usage of all-purpose fertilizer provides the plant with an additional boost during the transplanting stage.
- You can feed the plant again if it shows signs of weakness. A well-rotted aged manure or compost can be used for side dressing the plant either once or two times a year.
Growing Pointed Gourd Plant Care Tips
- You need to keep the planting area of pointed gourd free from weed throughout its life cycle via mulching. This has to be carried out during the early months of crop growth through mechanical or manual means.
- Mulching should be accompanied with hoeing for conservation of moisture and facilitation of aeration around the root region. You can spray herbicides such as Gramaxone (1.0% a.i) each hectare for ensuring a higher yield and controlling the weeds.
- The ploughing work needs to be completed within the initial stage of the crop development.
- Autumn months require irrigation at a span of 8-10 days. You need to increase the frequency to 4-5 days during summer months.
- You can use dry leaves or bark for mulching the soil and helping it with moisture retention. This also keeps the plant protected from falling prey to pests or weeds.
- Pointed gourd is basically a vine requiring a certain level of support for its growth. You can install either a frame or stake on the planting site to help with the climbing. Alternatively, you can arrange for a trellis. Once the vines reach the top of the trellis support, they need to be pinched or pruned. This redirects the energy of the plant towards production of more fruits and flowers.
- Training the pointed gourd plants on trellis systems help with an effective pollination and also boosts up plant growth. You can create a trellis system easily by intersecting pieces of bamboo or wood. The trellis should ideally have a height of 2 meter. You can tie the vines with wires to train them on vertical trellis. Aerial support can also take the form of bower wherein a concrete pillar or wooden structure has to be primarily erected on the field.
- The vine might get damaged if more flowers start rotting while the vegetable fades and rotates on the ground. You can counteract such a scenario by making scaffolds.
Pests and Diseases
- Two of the most popular pests which plague pointed gourd plant are Blister beetle and Red bitter beetle. The former can be manager by spraying water on the plant. Red bitter beetle on the other hand affects the plants between the months of February and April.
- The main diseases which affect pointed gourd plantation are Root-knot Nematode, Fruit Rot, Mosaic and Downy Mildew.
How to Harvest Pointed Gourd?
Pointed gourd can be harvested 3-4 months from the date of its planting. The plant starts bearing fruits 120 to 140 days after transplanting and this usually starts from February and continues until September. You can harvest the vegetable 15-18 days post pollination and before it reaches full maturity. For best results, you need to opt for weekly harvesting.
If you fail to harvest the fruit before it ripens fully, then the flesh will over ripen and the seeds will get harder. The taste will also deteriorate in this case. For best results you should pick gourds while they are immature and tender and wait until the light fuzz around the fruit disappears.
Harvested plants can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The yield of pointed gourd depends on the variety cultivated, crop management and plant population. You can expect an average yield of 15-20 tonnes per hectare in pointed gourd cultivation.