My last post in March on this subject dealt with the sowing and germination of often sought after indian vegetables that are difficult to grow under the temperate and wet conditions of the United Kingdom. This growing season has been one of the worst in the UK, with record rainfall and plummeting temperatures. As a result, the seedlings have had a long stay in the germinator and pots in a makeshift greenhouse. Ideally, the plants should have been out in their final positions by the beginning of May, but due to inclement conditions, they were only put outside in the beginning of June this year.
Lauki (Calabash) – The young plants have all survived the first growing phase, and were planted into plastic containers, with supporting stakes to give support to the delicate stems of the plant. Once the plants reached about a foot tall, they were trained on a trellis to enable their tendrils to twine around the support. The plants are in a sheltered place in full sun to maximise their chances of growth. The potting medium was one part topsoil, 2/3rds well-rotted compost and 1/3 grit to give good drainage.
Unfortunately, none of the ridged gourd (Turai) or bitter gourd plants made it to this stage, and died due to damping off disease brought upon by the unseasonal spring/summer this year. I have planted new seedlings using the methods described before.
The calabash plants are now flowering profusely. As with all members of the Cucurbitaceae family, the flowers are either male or female. In most members of this family of plants, that include courgettes, pumpkins, cucumbers etc, male flowers are the first to emerge and can be easily identified by their absence of a fruit-like growth at the base of the flower. The female flowers appear a little later.
The female flowers are easily identifiable by the presence of a fruit at their base (as in the picture below).
These plants also branch extensively so it is a good idea to have a trellis or netting that allows for side shoots to grab and grow.
Now it is just an issue of wait and watch while the plant grows taller and hopefully produces decent sized gourd for consumption.