Ridge Gourd or “Luffa Acutangula” is a popular vegetable crop grown all across the Asian sub-continent. It is a member of the cucumber family and can be grown easily in containers. The best thing about ridge gourd is that they have next to none maintenance requirements making them well suited even for amateur gardeners.
If you have been wondering about how to grow ridge gourd in container or pots, then you have come to the right place as today we are going to conduct a detailed discussion of the same.
Ridge gourd is rich in dietary fibres and water while the level of saturated fats is exceptionally low. This makes this vegetable the perfect mealtime option for people wanting to lose stubborn weight. Although ridge gourd is suited for all types of garden, you can follow our guide to increase its yield drastically.
Also read: How to Grow Bitter Gourd at Home?
This climbing vine producing yellow flowers can be grown throughout the year with an appropriate water system. However, the best time for planting ridge gourd seeds is the beginning of winter and the beginning of summer.
If you are growing this vegetable for cooking purposes then the fruit shall have to be harvested at a very young stage. You can grow ridge gourds in back yards, greenhouses, poly houses, containers and pots.
They come in three main varieties and a variety of hybrid varieties.
- Swarna Manjari ridge gourds are elongated in shape and weigh around 175 grams. They harvest after 65-70 days from its sowing and are tolerant to powdery mildew.
- Second comes Swarna Uphar which weigh 200 gram and contain a soft pulp with less fibre.
- The third variety is Swarna Sawani or Satputia which is perfect for being grown during monsoon months. It is tolerant to both downy mildew and powdery mildew.
- Examples of some hybrid varieties of ridge gourd are Desi Chaitali, PKM 1, Kankan Harita, Co-1, Co-2 and Phule Sucheta.
Growing Conditions, Cultivation and History
The ideal temperature for growing ridge gourd is between 25 to 35 degree Celsius. Shallow cultivation is preferred during the early stage of plant growth. Providing the plants with better support in the form of bamboo sticks also adds a positive impetus to its growth drive.
Since ridge gourds are heavy feeders you will be required to add a lot of compost and manure to the soil prior to planting the seeds. Occasional usage of a water-soluble low-nitrogen fertilizer like 5-10-5 can also boost up the plant growth.
Organic compost like cow manure or left-overs of biogas plants can be used for fuelling up the growth of ridge gourd plants. Under normal conditions, the ridge gourd seeds will germinate within 6-8 days after which tiny sprouts become visible. The first two leaves called cotyledons appear in the second week of germination.
By the end of second week the first leaves appear over the cotyledons and the seedlings start growing from the second week. You can proceed with thinning after the second week by removing all weak and lagging seedlings using a pair of scissors.
Related post: How to Grow Pointed Gourd at Home?
How to Grow Ridge Gourd?
The heirloom seeds of ridge gourd shall have to be sown in trays before being transplanted. You can start preparing the ridge gourds for transplanting after the plants reach a height of ½ foot. A good growing medium becomes absolutely essential for helping the ridge gourd plants thrive.
You can prepare the same by mixing one part of Vermi Compost with one part of Coco Peat and two parts of potting soil. While Vermi Compost and potting mix provides the ridge gourd plants with all of its requisite nutrients, Coco Peat helps in retaining the moisture level of the soil.
The pot shall have to be placed in a sunny spot and provided with adequate support system without which the plants shall have very limited upward growth and might even have lesser yield.
While ridge gourd can grow on a variety of soils, the silt soil, clay loam and loam varieties are best for its cultivation. Whatever be the soil, it should have adequate drainage properties and should also be rich in organic materials.
If the soil has a depth of 6-8 inches, then you can spread a 2-inch thick layer of organic compost. The pH level of the soil should ideally be between 6.5 to 7.0. You can add some lime if the pH level is extremely low.
Evenly damp soil is required for best and fast growth of the ridge gourd plants. However, overwatering won’t do you any good either. 1”-1 ½” of water is adequate on a weekly basis. Once the ridge gourds bloom, you will have to add adequate levels of compost tea as that promotes better plant productivity.
How to Sow Ridge Gourd Seeds?
About 3-4 ridge gourd plants can be placed inside a 20-litre pot with an approximate distance of 4-5 inch in between them. This shall allow the plant roots to spread in all the directions. You can also soak the seeds in Amrut Jal for about 10-12 hours as this fastens the germination time.
Plain water can also be used in the place of Amrut Jal although this is not a compulsory step. You need to mark the spots where the seeds shall be sown. Next you will have to make between ¾ to 1-inch holes in the soil with your fingers. The seeds will have to be placed on their sides inside the holes which can be covered loosely using potting soil.
While watering the pot you will have to be careful about not disturbing the soil. The soil moisture also needs to be checked on a daily basis so that it doesn’t dry out. In this way you will be able to see seedlings stemming out from the pots within just 3-5 days.
Both direct sunlight and organic matter is required for the proper growth of the ridge gourd seeds. You can also enhance the germination process by rubbing the seeds on sandpaper prior to sowing the same.
Growing Ridge Gourd in Container/Pots
Ridge gourds are climber plants which can grow pretty fast. You will thus have to build a trellis for providing adequate support to this plant. Height of the trellis needs to be kept at a minimum of 6 feet. A stretched fishing net can also help in growing the plant vertically.
Irrespective of your trellis structure, it needs to be placed properly before the ridge gourd plant attains a height of 6-8 inches. At this point it will start shooting out tendrils which is going to assist with its climbing.
Ridge gourd plants require a lot of water for thriving well. It also requires direct sunlight which causes the soil to dry out pretty fast. You can prevent evaporation by mulching your pot heavily. A recycled plastic bottle can serve you well in the case of drip irrigation and keep your soil adequately hydrated throughout the day.
For doing this you need to make a small hole at the cap of the bottle which is going to allow water to pass in the form of tiny droplets. This bottle has to be placed head down over the plant and refilled every morning. You need to take this up as an additional watering process over and above your regular watering.
Using organic liquid soil fertilizers like Amrut Jal every 10-15 days can boost up the growth of your ridge gourd plants. This frequency has to be increased during the flowering stage. Extra nutrients can also be added to be pot on appearance of the first fruits. For doing this, you need to remove the mulch and pour in 2 litres of properly decomposed compost inside the container. You can mulch again after spreading out the compost evenly.
Ridge gourds are heavy feeders requiring a lot of water and nutrient for its normal growth. This is why you should grow the ridge gourd plants in bigger containers. A 20-litre container can serve you pretty well as you will be able to grow 2-3 plants in a single one.
While the shape of the container is not of much significance, it should have a minimum depth of at least 12 inches. You can opt for a nutrient rich potting mix with rich water retention capabilities. Adding greater amount of organic compost in the potting soil mix will make it nutrient rich while also helping with the water retention.
Check this: Can You Grow Arugula in Container?
A potted ridge gourd plant has to be watered daily during summer months. This needs to be done near the plant. Spray watering can helps in showering the plants with water but not in a single flow. If you have raised beds, then you can opt for watering via drip irrigation.
How to Take Care of Ridge Gourd Plant
Both male and female flowers are produced by the ridge gourd plant. While the male ones do not have any fruit, the female ones have a fruit attached to its bottom which develop into ridge gourd over due course. Pollination of ridge gourd plants are done by bees.
You can even hand pollinate the ridge gourd flowers in case if you don’t have bees in your garden. Hand pollination in a pretty simple process that can be done by taking pollens from a healthy male flower and gently removing its petals without causing any disturbance to the stamen.
Next the stamen shall have to be rubbed gently onto the female flower’s stigma. A single male flower can pollinate between 2-3 female ones.
How to Harvest ridge gourd
For harvesting ridge gourd, you will have to pay heed to the stem right next to the plant. The gourd is ready to be picked if the stem turns brown, starts to shrink and dries out.
However, the body of ridge gourd plant might be dry during this whole time while its stem dried out indicating that the plant is not receiving any nutrients from the vine making its ready to be picked.
The ridge gourd fruits do not have a long maturity period. They get ready to be picked just 8-12 days following its pollination. You can pick the gourd just 2-3 days after its fruit stop growing. It is always advisable to pick the fruits while they are young. Doing otherwise causes the fruit skin to start thickening and lots of fibre start growing from inside. Ripened fruits should be left on the plant itself as they can be used as seeds on being completely dried up.
You can also use the plants fibrous part, known as loofah as a natural scrubber. A pair of garden scissors can come to your rescue while removing the fruit from the plant. Gardeners often make the mistake of pulling the fruit from the plant. Doing this can cause major damage to the plant and garden cutters are always the safer option.
Managing Pests and Disease
- Fruit flies are responsible for yellowing and rotting of the fruits. You can control it by applying Carbaryl 10% DP into the pits for destroying the pupae prior to sowing. The affected fruits should also be removed and destroyed before they can infect the rest of the plant.
- Next comes caterpillars and beetles which can be controlled by spraying Methy Demeton or Malathion. You can deal with these pests by handpicking them off the plants and dislodging them using jet water spray.
- Ridge gourds often fall prey to downy mildew disease which takes the shape of cottony white mycelial growth on the leaf surface. It can also take the form of yellow spots appearing at the top of the leaves or maybe water-soaked fungus spots under the leaves especially during rainy season. Staking or pruning plants tend to improve air circulation for helping fight off downy mildew.
You should also make it a point to water the plants only during morning so that get can dry out adequately during daytime. Powdery mildew, on the other hand, can be identified through small whitish spots appearing on the stems and leaves which tends to coalesce rapidly during later stages.
Spraying the leaves with baking soda tends to raise the pH level of the soil so that it becomes almost impossible for the powdery mildew to survive. You can also mix milk and water in 1:9 ratio and spray it over the leaves and stems. This solution has to be reapplied every time it gets washed out in the rain.
Ridge Gourd Companion Plants
Bitter gourd, cucumber and bottle gourd.