Ash Gourd Growing Guide:
Introduction of Ash Gourd growing
Ash Gourd is a very popular vegetable in India and grown throughout the country. This melon is mostly consumed in India and china, while Indians give more importance to this vegetable because ofits medicinal properties in the Ayurvedic medicine system and yogic science.Its precise origins cannot be traced but botanists suggest its native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. Its widely grown throughout Asia.
When the vegetable is young the fruit is coated in fine hairs and fuzzy. A young melon tastes sweet but as it ripens its fine hairs and sweetness disappears. Mature gourds exterior color can vary from pale grey to dark green and are coated in a distinctive white ash. Hence it gets the name Ash Gourd. The white ash and chalky wax on the exterior deters micro-organisms, due to which it has excellent storage qualities and can be stored for a complete one year. The Chinese would store the melons and eat them all winter long and for this reason it is called as winter melon. People assume winter melons grow in winter which is not true. In fact, it cannot tolerate frosts but grows well in warm mild climates. Growing Ash Gourd needs trellis as the plant is vine grown. The plant has broad leaves with flowers in yellow color. Ripe melons can grow as big as 70 to 80 cm in length.
Scientific / botanical name of Ash Gourd.
The scientific name of Ash gourd is Benincasahispida and it comes from the gourds family Cucurbitaceae. Of the plant kingdom Plantae.
Other names of Ash Gourd.
Ash Gourd, White Pumpkin, Winter Melon, Wax Gourd, and Cucuzza.
Ash Gourd in Indian Languages.
Hindi –Pethakaddu;Gujarathi – Petha; Manipuri – Torobot; Marathi – Kohla; Tamil – Neerpoosanikai; Telugu – Gummadikaaya, BoodidaGummadikaaya; Malayalam –Elavan,Kumbalanga; Kannada – Boodugumbala, Budelumbalakayi; Bengali – Chalkumra; Konkani – Kuvale; Assamese –Komora; Sanskrit – Kushmanda.
Nutrition in Ash Gourd growing
- 96% of Ash gourd is composed of water.
- Ash gourd is rich in Vitamins and Minerals.
- Rich in Vitamin-C, B-complex vitamins (niacin, thiamine and riboflavin).
- Rich source of Minerals (iron, potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium).
- Protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber are available in good amount.
Benefits by Ash Gourd
- Sharpness of mind.
- Increased Energy in body.
- Reduces Constipation, Piles, Boils.
- keeps the nerves very calm.
- Helps in relieving acidity and kills intestinal worms.
- Helps in curing peptic ulcer and in losing weight
Ash Gourd Varieties / Ash Gourd Cultivars
- Kau Local – The flesh of the fruit is high in thickness and oval in shape growing upto 55cm and weighing around six to eight kilograms each. Farmer can harvest upto 70 tons per acre.
- Indu AG1 – The flesh of the fruit is high in thickness and round in shape growing upto 24cm and weighing around four to five kilograms each. This variety has high tolerance against Mosaic virus.
- TNAU Ash Gourd CO-1 Hybrid – Fruits are oblong in shape with medium size and weighing around four to five kilograms each. Farmer can harvest up to 225 tons per acre within 120 to 140 days.
- CO-1 – Fruits are local variety with oblong oval in shape and weighing around eight to ten kilograms each. Farmer can harvest up to 50 to 60 tons per acre within 140 to 160 days.
- CO-2 – Fruits are local variety with oblong in shape and weighing around two to four kilograms each. Farmer can harvest up to 80 to 85 tons per acre within 120 to 130 days.
- APAU Shakthi – Fruits are cylindrical in shape and they grow long in size. Farmer can harvest up to 75 to 85 tons per acre within 140 to 180 days.
- Ekalavya Hybrid – The fruits weigh around 10 to 12 kilograms each. This variety has high tolerance against Mosaic virus.Farmer can harvest up to 250 tons per acre within 140 days.
- IVAG-502 – The fruits are oblong in shape and weighing around 10 to 13 kilograms each. Farmer can harvest up to 75 to 85 tons per acre within 120 to 140 days.
Climate and Soil requirement for Ash Gourd growing
Growing Ash gourds in winters when the weather is chilly is not at all preferred. Ash gourds prefer a warm mild weather. 25°C to 30°C is the optimal temperature for fast growth of ash gourd plants. Lower temperatures with day length short will stimulate female flower development while male flowers are stimulated in higher temperature. Generally in south India where winters are not chilly, farmer can grow ash gourd throughout the year. Ash gourd crops strive well in wide range of rainfall conditions. A well-drained and deep loamy soil with pH range of 5 to 6.7 is optimum. The plants can tolerate wide range of soils and even alkaline soils up to pH 8.0. A full grown ash gourd plants can also withstand drought. .
Land preparation in Ash Gourd growing
Plough the land three to four times till it attains fine tilth. Mix the top layer of the soil with well rotten farm yard manure and fertilizers on the topsoil of the field on the last plough.Dig pits with measurements of 50 cm x 50 cm x 40 cm with a spacing of 4 meters x 2 meters.
Propagation in Ash Gourd growing
To grow ash gourds, propagation is done mainly through seeds. For better germination, seedlings can be raised in greenhouses in high range zones and are later transplanted to the main field. Sow about two to three seeds in plastic seedling trays or mesh trays filled with vermicompost or potting mix. When the young plants grow having four to six leaves it is recommended to thin the unwanted and unhealthy sapplings. Every morning the seedlings must be watered and when they reach 10 to 15 cm in length or after two to three weeks of sowing, the seedlings will be ready for transplanting.
Seed treatment in Ash gourd growing
Ash gourd seeds can be treated in the following ways, but any one method must be followed. To improve and for faster germination, soak the seeds in double the quantity of cold water for about 30 to 45 minutes and incubate the seeds for five to six days. Seeds can also be soaked overnight in cold water before sowing.
Soaking seeds in 0.2% solution of bavistin for about two hours will reduce the soil born fungus attack. Seeds can also be treated with anyone – Trichodermaviride 4 grams/kg or Carbendazim 2 grams/kg or Pseudomonas fluorescens 10 grams/kg before sowing.
Seed rate, season, sowing and spacing in Ash Gourd growing
On an average per hectare, 2 kg of ash gourd seeds are required. Usually planting is done twice in a year in the months of January to March and September to December are ideal for ash gourd growing. In monsoon season, sowing can be started after first few rains during the months of May to June. Seeds of four to five are sown in each pit within a depth of one to two cm. If seeds are sown beyond two centimeters there will be delay in germination. It’s advisable to irrigate the land three to four days before sowing, which is also called as pre-sowing irrigation that will be beneficial for seeds. Germination will take place in about four to five days. After two weeks of germination, growers have to remove the unhealthy plants and keep only three plants per pit.
Irrigation in Ash Gourd growing
In the initial stages watering every third day is recommended. During the later stages of flowering and fruit formation it must be increased to alternate days.In the regions where water source is limited it is recommended to go for drip irrigation and steps must be taken not to let water stagnate in the fields especially in monsoon season.
Manures and Fertilizers in Ash Gourd growing
No farmer must expect high yields without proper land preparation and balanced fertilization of the fields.
A fertilizer dose per pit must be in the ratio 28:10:10 grams of N:P2O5:K2O. Apply a basal dose of 20 to 25 tons per hectare of farm yard manure along with half dose of 35 kilos Nitrogen(N) and full dose of 25 kilos Phosphorous Pentoxide (P2O5) and 25 kilos Potassium Oxide(K2O) per hectare at the time of land preparation. The remaining dose of 35 kilos Nitrogen(N) can be applied in 2 equal doses, one at the time of vining or after a month and the second dosage at the time of flowering or in second month.
Grower can expect high yield and best quality fruits when the land is met with balanced fertilizers.
Inter crops in Ash Gourd growing.
For additional benefits, a grower can opt for inter crop. Quick growing Oriental pickling melons or Cucumber are best choice as Ash gourd grows slow and takes time initially.
Intercultural operations in Ash Gourd growing
Spread dried twigs or branches and dried coconut fronds on the ground as ash gourd is vine and grown trailing on the ground.
Pollination in Ash Gourd growing
Ash gourd has both male and female flowers growing so it’s a cross pollinated crop. By natural means insects such as honey bees pollinate flowers. In monsoon seasons bees tend to be less active so growers are suggested to introduce bee-hives for good pollination and the other way is hand pollination or mechanical pollination.
Hormone application in Ash Gourd growing
To have more fruits on the crop, the plant must have more female flowers. While growing ash gourd, the vines are sprayed with flowering hormones which produces more female flowers and double the chances of bearing more fruits. 25 to 100 ppm of Gibberellic acid increases female flowers by 50% and works for up to 65 to 80 days. .
Pests and diseases in Ash Gourd growing.
Red Beetle (Aulacophorafoveicollis)
These pests are red in color. Colored Grubs after hatching feed on the parts that touches the ground such as roots, fruits and stem. Adults feed on flowers and leaves. MethyDemeton 25EC at 1.3 Liters per acre or 500ml of Malathion 50EC must be sprayed. Hand picks the adult beetles to destroy and after harvesting expose the field to sun to destroy hibernating pests by thorough ploughing.
Fruit Fly maggots feed on fruits flesh resulting to fruit damage and rotten them. Female adult fruit fly lay eggs inside the fruits by puncturing and inserting. Growers can control the damage by using bait traps with Carbofuran granules with Malathion 50EC at the rate of 2 ml per liter.
Pumpkin Caterpillar (Diaphaniaindica)
One can find the eggs lay on lower side of the leaves. The larva feeds on the leaves, flowers and on the flesh of the fruits. Spray the field with Malaithon EC or Methyl Demeton or Dimethoate at the rate of 1.3 liters per acre. Destroy the caterpillars manually by handing picking.
Aphids (Aphis gossypi)
Aphids suck sap on tender parts of the plants by congregating in large numbers thereby the leaves start curling. Ants are the biggest carriers of aphids from one plant to another. Spray Fish oil soap at 1.5% or Dimethoate at 0.05%.
Downy mildew (Pseudoperonosporacubensis)
One can observe yellow spots on top of the leaves and water soaked spots of fungus under the leaves. Dithane M45 at the rate of 4 grams per liter of water must be spray to control and sanitize the fields.
Powdery Mildew (Erysiphecichoracearum)
Ash colored and whitish round spots are seen on leaves and stems. If neglected the leaves become yellow and turn brown and dry. On the leaf surface white powdery mass appears. The disease can be controlled by spraying Dinocap 0.05%.
Mosaic Virus(Cucumber Mosaic Virus)
The disease can be distinguished by chlorosis of leaves and yellow network of veins on the leaves. White fly is found to be the natural carrier of this virus. By spraying Dimethoate 0.05% the disease can be controlled. Affected plants must be destroyed by uprooting.
Harvesting in Ash Gourd growing
Harvesting can be done both at immature as well as at mature stage. Fruits for food consumption are harvested at immature stage. The immature green fruits will be ready for harvest within 45 to 60 days. Fully grown fruits when matured, the stem connecting the fruit gets wrinkled and shrunken. In about 80 to 90 days from the day of sowing the fruits appear coated with powdery substance and ready for harvest.
Yield in Ash Gourd growing
Depending on the crop management and variety the fruit yield varies. On an average, mature fruits yield 20 to 25 tons per hectare while immature fruits yield around 15 tons per hectare.
Marketing of Ash Gourd
Ash gourd has much demand locally especially at festive seasons in India. The fruit can be marketed in local markets directly or by marketing agency. Fruits without bruises and cuts can be stored for very long time. Ash gourd growing is advantageous to the farmer as he don’t have to worry selling in distress as the fruit can be stored for long.
Some tips to grow Ash Gourd vegetable
- Soaking of seeds overnight in water before sowing will speed up germination.
- Cut off the tips of main vines will produce side branches which will produce more flowers and fruits much sooner.
- Hormone application will boost more flowers and fruits.
- You could spray the vine with sugar water to attract bees for pollination.
- A constant vigil over pests and diseases and timely spraying of pesticides will lead to proper ash gourd growing.
- By placing bricks or logs or stone under the fruits will protect them from colored grubs in the soil.
- After harvesting wash the fruits in water and store them in a dry place.
Bottom Line of Ash Gourd growing
It is one of best vegetables to grow. This can be grown even in containers/pots and back yards or terrace. One can get decent profits if he plans well of ash gourd growing.