Bitter melon belongs to the gourd family. It is also called bitter gourd, bitter apple, carilla fruit and balsam. The vegetable has a unique bitter taste and has many medicinal and culinary uses. The plant can grow up to 5 meters high. The plant grows similarly to cucumbers, squash, and watermelon. The fruits change color throughout their growing period. They start as green to yellow and finally orange. The orange fruits are the most ripe, and considered overripe. The fruits are best consumed when they are green.
Table of Contents
- How to Plant Bitter Melon in Pots
- Caring for your plants
- Harvesting the plant
- Extra Tips for growing Bitter Melon
- 10 Benefits of Bitter Melon
- Using Bitter Melon
- Frequently asked questions
- 10 Best Bitter Melon Seeds
- Wrapping it up
How to Plant Bitter Melon in Pots
1. Get the seeds
You can purchase the seeds from online stores. In low temperatures and without any form of treatment, the seeds will take around 4 weeks to germinate. For faster germination, scarify the seeds to get rid of the seed coat. The seed coat inhibits fast growth by preventing water from entering inside the seed. Still, you can soak them in water for 24 hours. They are able to absorb a lot of water and germinate quickly when planted. Here are a few top rated bitter melon seeds:
2. Plant the plants in a pot
Bitter melons do well when planted in pots with well drained sandy soil. Add compost to the soil for maximum yields. To avoid repotting continually, get a big pot as it will allow the spread of the plant. Plant the seeds 1 cm deep into the soil. Make a hole on the soil surface and put the seeds. Add adequate water, while avoiding waterlogging as it may result to stunted growth of your plants. Use your finger to feel the soil . It should feel moist.
Here are some large planting pots to get you started if you need them:
3. Select a suitable growing area to place your pots
The vegetable does well in full sun, although it can tolerate partial shade. Make sure the vines will be exposed to the sun once they start spreading.
4. Transfer the plants to your garden
After a few weeks, the seeds will start spouting. When they mature to young plants, transfer them to the garden.. After some time; your plants will start developing vines. Train them to a trellis, for support. If you donâ€™t support them, they will get damaged. The trellis should be around 2 meters high, so that the plant can comfortably climb and wrap around it. A trellis offers other benefits such as making harvesting easier and preventing diseases. Still, a bitter melon spreading on the ground will produce smaller fruits compared to one supported by a trellis.
Caring for your plants
Spray your plants with approved fungicides to prevent diseases
The vegetable is prone to pesticides which attack squash and cucumber. Discoloration of the leaves may indicate that the plants have developed leaf spot or downy mildew. If it is in a rainy season, your plants may develop fungal infections.
Prune the main stem once it outgrows the trellis
Use pruning shears for the trimming. This will redirect the plants energy to lateral spreading.
Fertilize the plants after they develop 4-6 leaves. A fruit and vegetable fertilizer will be an ideal option.to avoid oversaturating the soil, read and follow the usage instructions on the label. The plants should not be fed with too much nitrogen, as it will cause the production of full foliage at the expense of fruits. as the plants continues to grow, apply a liquid fertilizer on it at least once in a month.
For better yields, the side shoots of the plant should be regularly pruned.
Harvesting the plant
The right time to harvest your fruits is when they are green, with some specks of yellow. Keep on picking the fruits, to allow room for growth of other fruits. Check your vines from time to time, to check for grown fruits.
Natural pollinators such as bees do the work for you. In case they are not present, you can hand pollinate your plants early in the morning.
Extra Tips for growing Bitter Melon
- After handling store bought seeds, wash your hands thoroughly as they are usually treated with chemicals which may be harmful if ingested.
- Always remove dry leaves from the plant. It will enhance the appearance of your plants.
- Soak your melons in salty water, to remove the bitterness.
- The leaves of bitter melon are used in cooking and making juices. However, frequent harvesting of the leaves can weaken your plants. Harvest them once in a fortnight, so that your plant will remain healthy.
10 Benefits of Bitter Melon
- It has several minerals useful in the body.
- It has vitamin A which promotes the health of the skin and enhances vision
- It has folate, which promotes growth and development
- The vegetables have Vitamin c which promotes faster healing of wounds and bone formation
- It aids in weight loss. Bitter melon has low calories and a lot of fiber.
- It helps to normalize the levels of blood sugar. Bitter lemon lowers the level; of blood glucose and regulates the usage of insulin in the body.
- Fights some bacteria and viruses from the body. Research has proven that bitter melon has some antiviral and antibacterial agents. The agents makes the body less prone to infections such as stomach ulcers which is brought by Helicobacter pylori (bacteria)
- Its sharp flavor goes well in various dishes. It can be steamed, baked, fried,Â
- The fruits and the leaves are considered to be effective against type 2 diabetes.
- Bitter lemon smoothens digestion. It helps in relieving indigestion and constipation.
Using Bitter Melon
Bitter melon can be cooked on its own or as an accompaniment in other dishes. It can also be used to make juice. Use the fruit when itâ€™s still green and firm.
How to prepare Bitter Lemon juice
- Wash the fruits thoroughly
- Remove the seeds
- Cut it in smaller pieces. Add turmeric and salt to water. Dip the cut pieces for 20 minutes. Discard the water.
- Use a blender to extract juice from the bitter melon together with water, until it produces a smooth paste
- Filter the juice and add lemon juice.
Frequently asked questions
Does bitter melon have side effects?
The vegetable may cause some side effects, but this rarely happens. These may include abdominal aches, fever and headache.
Is bitter melon juice healthy?
Yes. The juice is rich in vitamins and other nutrients helpful in the body.
Which part of the melon is edible?
The whole part of the fruit is edible, including the green scraps. However, many people prefer eating the pink flesh only
Can I use bitter melon as an alternative of diabetes treatment
Although the fruit has been proven to be useful in diabetes management, it cannot replace the medication for diabetes.
Can I eat bitter melon when Iâ€™m pregnant?
Although the fruit has a lot of nutrients that may be useful to you and your unborn baby, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking it as it may have adverse effects on your blood sugar level.
10 Best Bitter Melon Seeds
Wrapping it up
Bitter melon has many benefits to our bodies. The best thing is that it is easy to grow when you follow the necessary guidelines. Just make sure they receive adequate sunlight and water. Look out for pests or diseases in your plant often and eliminate them. It will reward you with fresh, healthy vegetables at the end.