GROWING BITTER GOURD

My first attempt to grow bitter gourds – Momordica charantia.
It’s a sentiment thing really, that is what was big on the menu of everyday foods which I ate while spending time in South India, and I developed a taste for it, it is a walk down memory lane for me, a pleasant one.
While there I learnt that bitter gourd is a healthy vegetable, reported to be of some help in lowering blood sugar among other things. I learnt to cook it too, quite simple really, we stir fried it either with a tomato sauce, or with potato, or onion, or on it’s own. It can also be served with yogurt to help set off it’s bitterness.

A dear friend of mine sent me the seeds early in spring and I went about to sow them, it took a while for the seeds to germinate and I had to put the container on the radiator for it to happen, so I lost some seeds, but finally I had five healthy plants that climbed on netting which I had put up on a sunny window. I was so excited when the plant started to flower, lovely yellow flowers with a faint, delicate fragrance. Even more excited was it to discover a ‘female’ flower one day with a young gourd forming. This gourd is growing slowly but fine. Meanwhile, and this is about two months ago, there have been many flowers but only ‘male’ ones. I fear that we will only have one precious bitter gourd this year!  As the summer has been very chilly with minimal sunshine I think this will have added to the problem of growing this plant here.  But I have kept some seeds and next spring will sow it again as this climbing, trailing plant with brilliantly green and beautifully shaped leaves has given me much joy.

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