Easy to Grow Veggies: Grow Gourds

Are you planning to grow some nutritious gourds at home, so as to have instant access on them for kitchen recipes, this brief guide will do the trick!

What is a Gourd?

Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, gourds are the trailing and climbing vines, covered with triangular lobed foliage. The yellow and white flowers appear on this vine that eventually turns into a greenish plump fruit. These fruits should be harvested green when the stem turns dry and brown before they are over ripen. You can grow them in the containers as well, but keeping their sprawling nature in mind, do ensure to give them additional support with the help of trellis, railing or fences.

Gourd Varieties to be Grown

There are three types of gourds that are generally grown by gardeners that are ornamental, utilitarian, and vegetable gourds. The best perk of growing vegetable gourd is that you can use its fresh and nutritious fruits instantly and use it in a multitude of recipes. Below is a list of gourds that are generally eaten as a veggie, which you can grow at your yard or even on terrace.

1. Bottle Gourd

Botanical name: Lagenaria siceraria

Also known as calabash or white-flowered gourd, this fruit comes in shapes like rounded, bottled, and slim. This gourd has a white flesh, enclosed under a smooth, green peel. Although its vine needs a lot of space, yet you can grow them in large pots.

Growing Tip: This gourd grows best in well-draining, moist soil at a warm, sunny spot and requires good watering during the growing season.

Uses in Cuisines

Mildy flavored bottle gourd can be cooked as a vegetable after extracting its thin peel and seeds. Or make a healthy smoothie by grinding the toasted gourd with rice, cinnamon, and a pinch of black pepper.

2. Bitter Gourd

Botanical name: Momordica charantia

This oblong-shaped gourd has tapering ends and its thin layer of flesh consists of flat seeds. It should be harvested green when its texture is watery and flesh is crunchy. Its vine starts bearing fruit within three to four months of planting.

Growing Tip: Its prolific vine does well in a hot, humid climate, so you can grow them on your terrace, balcony or even patios.

Uses in Cuisine

As the name suggests, this gourd has a bitter taste, but the enormous nutritious values make it stand out. After peeling its wafty peel, you can stir fry it by tossing some flavorful spices and herbs.

3. Sponge Gourd or Luffa

Botanical name: Luffa cylindrica

Loofa refers to the two species of the gourd, one is cyclindrica(smooth) and the other is aegyptiaca(ridged). Smooth Luffa has small, rounded fruit whereas Ridged ones have bigger fruits with long ridges. People sometimes use both species of luffa interchangeably.

Growing Tip: Luffas love full sun nurturing and well-draining soil enriched with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.

Uses in Cuisines

You can eat this high water content guard either boiled or use it in soups and stews. You can even stir fry it with tomato gravy and dress it with green chilies and fresh coriander.

4. Apple Gourd

Botanical name: Praecitrullus fistulosus

Also known as Indian squash or ‘tinda’, this round-shaped apple-gourd has a slight thorny outer surface like a zucchini. Its vine starts bearing this gourd within 60-70 days from its planting.

Growing Tip: Apple gourd loves humid and hot climate to thrive, so protect them from the frost, and if you live in a colder region, better to grow them in the pots.

Uses in Cuisines

Popular in the Indian kitchen, this gourd is extensively used in savory dishes. Its crunchy flavor is complemented with the tomatoes, ginger, and chili gravy, for making its spicy curry.

5. Pointed Gourd

Botanical name: Trichosanthes dioica

Grown on the trellis, this is one of the most appreciated gourds of India. Its perennial vine produces green fruits with white or no stripes, that are good sources of fiber and vitamins. This mildly flavored gourd has crunchy seeds that are wrapped under the mushy flesh.

Growing Tip: Use sandy loamy soil and keep it at a warm and sunny location.

Uses in Cuisines

This green veggie is eaten stir-fried coated with rich and thick gravy along with steamed rice. You can use it in preparing soup and stew as well.

Gourd Growing Instructions

In warmer regions

  • If you live in a tropical or subtropical area, grow it as biannual.
  • Water it regularly during its growing period and in summers.
  • Use black, well-draining, moist soil and wet near the root-ball area thoroughly.
  • Always use a trellis, fence or cage to help the growth of the vine.

In colder regions

  • You can grow gourd as an annual crop.
  • Sow its seeds in mid of April, when temperature stable up to the level of 55 F (12 C) or more.
  • Keep the plant at a bright, sunny spot, and regular water regularly.
  • Use clay-rich, well-draining, slightly acidic soil.