Growing Bottle Gourd for Beginners:
The following content details about: Growing Bottle Gourd (Lauki).
Introduction to Growing Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourd is a vine grown for its fruits and one of the early vegetables to be cultivated not for its fruits but used as utensils for holding water. Tender and immature gourds are harvested as vegetable while the matured, dried ones are used as bottle or utensil. Bottle gourd comes in different sizes and shapes such as round, small and bottle shaped, long up to a metre. They are native to Africa and spread across Europe and Asia either by seeds while migration or fruits drifted with ocean currents. Now the vegetable is grown widely across the world.
Bottle gourd is an annual season crop. Being a creeper it needs support to grow, it can be grown on a fence or trellis or grown on ground just like other pumpkin family. The main vine stem can be one to three centimeter thick and is deeply grooved and angular in cross-section. The main stem branched out to five to six main laterals and having five longitudinal ridges. The plant is vigorous with large leaves and with a lush appearance. The leaves of the plant are large up to 40 cm and grow very fast and begin to flower by two months after seeding. The foliage is covered with tender hairs, and the leaves have soft texture because of fine hairs. The plants produce both male and female flowers and are borne singly on the axils of the leaves, while the male flowers are borne on long peduncles and female flowers on short peduncles. The flowers are big up to 10 cm, white and attractive. Immature fruits have smooth skin, light greenish in color and a white flesh with brownish seeds in it.
Greenhouse growing of Bottle Gourd offers distinct advantages of quality, productivity and favourable market prices to the growers Bottle Gourd growers can substantially increase their income by greenhouse growing of Bottle Gourd in off season as the Bottle Gourd produced in the normal season generally do not fetch good returns due to large availability of these Bottle Gourdes in the market.
Scientific / Botanical name of Bottle Gourd
The scientific name of Bottle Gourd is Lagenariasiceraria
Family Name of Bottle Gourd
The plant comes from the gourds family of Cucurbitaceae. The family members include cucumbers, gourds, melons, squashes, and pumpkins.
Other Names of Bottle Gourd
Calabash, bottle gourd, white flowered gourd, opo squash, long melon, suzza melon.
Bottle Gourd in Indian Languages
- English – Bottle Gourd.
- Hindi – Ghia / Lauki.
- Tamil – Sorekai / Chorakkai.
- Malayalam – Chorakaa.
- Telugu – Sorakaya / Anapa Kaya.
- Kannada – Sorekai / Esugai Balli / Halu Gumbala.
- Bengali – Lau.
- Gujarati – Dudhi.
- Konkani – Gardudde / Boblen.
- Marathi – Pandharabhopla / Dudya Bhopal.
- Oriya – Lau.
- Punjabi – Ghia Da Sag.
- Tulu – Turae.
- Kashmiri – Zeeth.
Bottle Gourd Varieties / Bottle Gourd Cultivars
Samrat: In this plant variety the fruits are green in color, 30 to 40 cm long, cylindrical in shape idle for box packing. The fruits have good keeping quality and can be harvested by 180 to 200 days. Farmer can expect a yield of 48 tonnes per hectare.
PKM1: This plant variety is a induced mutant from H375. The fruits are very long reaching up to 200 cm. The crop can be harvested within 130 to 140 days. Farmer can expect a yield of 25 tonnes per hectare.
CO1: This plant variety is from germplasm type. The fruits are bottleneck at the top and pale green in color. Farmer can expect a yield of about 25 to 30 tonnes per hectare.
The other cultivars include PusaNaven, Meghdoot, PusaManjiri, Pusa summer prolific long / round, Arkabahar, etc.
Climate for Growing Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourd grows well in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They do not grow well in shades but need plenty of sunlight to grow well with an optimum temperature between 30° to 35°C. The plant will borne more male flowers when temperatures are more than 38° C giving low yield. The plant can withstand frost free, low temperatures provided the plant is well established. Seeds germinate rate is high in temperatures 20° to 25°C, while the germination rate is low when temperatures are below 15°C and above 35°C. The plant needs moderate rainfall and is sensitive to water logging.
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Soil requirement for Growing Bottle Gourd
The plant grows on a wide range of soils from sand to clay, for commercial and high yield the plant needs fertile, sandy loam, well drained, with well-aerated soils. It is intolerant to soils that are highly acidity, alkalinity, or salinity. However, the soil pH 5.5 to 6.5 range is idle for its growth. When soil conditions are optimum the plant produces more female flowers thereby giving more yields.
Land preparation in Growing Bottle Gourd
Plow the land with disc harrow followed by three cross plowing with cultivator. Mix the land with well rotten farm yard manure. After preparing the land to fine tilth, dig pits about 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm sizes at 250 cm x 200 cm spacing.
Or, Planking after last two plowing with cultivator makes the soil pulverized, form raised beds of 120 cm width and in the centre of bed place laterals with a recommended spacing between plants is 250 cm x 200 cm.
Propagation in Growing Bottle Gourd
Propagation is mainly done by seeds and depending on weather conditions transplanting can be undertaken. For transplanting seeds are sown in nursery beds filled with soils mixed with compost manure. When seedlings are at four to five leaf stage is ready for transplanting to the main field.
Seed rate Growing Bottle Gourd
1.5 kilogram seeds per hectare.
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Season in Growing Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourd can be planted almost throughout the year however too much rainfall and too chilly seasons are not preferable for sowing. In India, the optimum seasons can be January to March and September to October. Sowing can also be done before arrival of monsoon first few showers during May to June.
Sowing and Spacing in Growing Bottle Gourd
Seeds about three to four are sown per pit by dibbling method and thin weak seedlings to two per pit after 15 days.
Seed Treatment in Growing Bottle Gourd
Before sowing, the seeds must be treated with four grams of Trichodermaviride or ten grams of Pseudomonas fluorescens or two grams of Carbendazim per kilogram seeds.
Irrigation in Growing Bottle Gourd
Minimal attention is giving when growing in rainy seasons. Usually irrigate the fields before dibbling the seeds and thereafter irrigation is done once a week. Drip irrigation is recommended when plants are grown on raised beds. Install drip system with main and sub main pipes with the main lateral tubes at an interval of 150 cm. Place the drippers at an interval of 60 cm and 50 cm apart with 4LPH and 3.5LPH capacities respectively.
Manures and Fertilizers in Growing Bottle Gourd
At the last plow mix the soil with 20 to 25 tonne of well rotten farm yard manure or compost as basal dose at the time of land preparation. Before sowing apply half dose of 35 kilogram per hectare of Nitrogen, full dose of 25 kilogram per hectare of each Phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) and Potassium oxide (K2O) as basal dose. The remaining Nitrogen is split into several doses and applied every 15 days.
Or, apply the field by preparing a mixture of 50 kilogram of farm yard manure along with two kilogram of Azosirillium and Phosphobacteria and 2.5 kilogram of Pseudomonas and 100 kilogram of neem cake for a hectare land before last plowing. Apply 10 kilogram of farm yard manure along with 100 grams of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium mixed in a ratio of 1:2:2 as basal dose per pit and 10 grams of Nitrogen per pit every 30 days.
Intercultural operations in Growing Bottle Gourd
Weeds can be controlled by hand picking after hoeing and repeated as and when required. To avoid fruit rot especially during rainy season, allow plants to grow over bamboo sticks, or wire mesh.
Pests and Diseases in Growing Bottle Gourd
Insects and Pests in Growing Bottle Gourd:
- Mites:These are tiny web spinning bugs that feed on sap from the leaves. They live in colonies underside of leaves and attack the plant by making the leaves look curled, weak and yellow allowing the leaves fall prematurely and if not controlled the plant may die. To control spray 2.5 ml of dicofol 18.5 % SC per litre of water.
- Aphids: These insects are called as plant lice; these are small sap sucking insects living in colonies underside and feeding on leaves. To control spray 0.5 ml of Imidachlopridin one litre of water along with sufficient quantity of stickers like Teepol, orapsa or any other.
- Fruit Fly and Epilachna Beetle:The larvae of fruit fly feed on fruits thereby decreasing the yield production. To control spray two grams of Carbaryl or 2.5 ml of Malathion in one litre of water at flowering and fruit initiation stages. Remove and destroy affected fruits.
Diseases in Growing Bottle Gourd:
Downey Mildew:This is a fungal disease and spreads from plant to plant by airborne spores. When infected, yellow to white patches appear on the upper surface of leaves and below the leaves are covered with white to grayish cotton like fungi. To control spray the field with two grams of Mancozeb or Chlorothalonilin one litre of water, once in every five days.
- Powdery Mildew: This is also a fungal disease affecting the foliage, stems and at times the flowers and fruit of the plant. It is observed with a superficial fungal growth on the surface of affected plant parts. To control spray the field with 1 ml of Dinocap or 0.5 grams of Carbendazim or 1 ml of Tridemorphin one litre of water.
Harvesting in Growing Bottle Gourd
Harvesting of fruit for fresh market can be done when fruits are immature, and reach marketable sizes. The fruits will be ready from 60 to 120 days after sowing depending on plant variety. Cut the peduncle of 5 cm above the fruit by using a sharp knife. Harvesting for mature fruits for seeds and hard shell can be done when the peduncle turns brown. Cut the fruits from the vines with a sharp knife with 5 cm stem attached.
Yield in Growing Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourd yield depends on the plant variety grown along with soil fertility and farming methods used. Usually a farmer can expect a yield of about 20 tonne per hectare.
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Post-harvest & Handling, Storage in Growing Bottle Gourd
Harvested gourds are stored out of the weather for another six months. The outer skin will decay forming hard like shell; 90% of the gourd weight is lost because of evaporation of water content in the fruit. Seeds are harvested when seeds start rattling when shaken. Cut the top fruit end to remove the seeds and dried tissue with a loop wire. Seeds must be cleaned and sundried before storing for planting for the next season.
Marketing in Growing Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourd has great demand in local market for its immature and fresh fruits because of its health benefits. The harvested fruits can be marketed directly in retail and local markets or through marketing agency.
Tips for Growing Bottle Gourd
- The plant can be grown both in ground and in container with 50 cm diameter.
- Spread the vine over the fence or trellis or roof.
- Soak the seeds overnight in water before sowing for early germination.
- They grow well in plenty of water but intolerant to water logging so the soil must be well drained.
- To have more flowers and fruits, cut off the growing tip of the main vine after it grows about six feet this will encourage the plant to produce more side branches.
- Feed the plant with liquid fertilizer every third week.
- Feed the plant with fertilizer high in phosphorous and potassium, the plants starts to produce more flowers.
- The plant grows up to 15 feet and climbs by tendrils, provide bamboo support or wire mesh or trellis along the stem.
- When bees are not around at flowering stage, better pollinate flowers by hands.
- To attract bees for pollination spray the plant with sugar water.