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snake gourds

How to  grow Snake gourd

Trichosanthes cucumerina is the Latin name for snake gourd, and it belongs to the same family as cucumbers, pumpkin, courgette, and even bitter melon. It is also known by other names, particularly in India, such as parwal or chichinda.

This plant gets its name from its characteristic fruit: long, thin gourds that are occasionally bent or even coiled in spirals to resemble serpents hanging from the vine. As the fruit matures, its skin hardens and turns an intense crimson hue, and the meat usually becomes gelatinous.

Serpent gourd, on the other hand, is often picked before it ripens, when the fruit is firm but not hard, without seeds, and with a moderate flavour.

What is the origin of snake gourd?

Snake gourd is native to South and Southeast Asia’s tropical and subtropical climates, although it also grows in Australia, Western Africa, and Latin America.

This vining plant can reach a height of 6.5 feet (2 metres), with broad, lobed leaves and stunning, fragrant white flowers. The snake gourd blossom features long, curling ‘hairs’ on the petals and closes during the day, only to unfurl its petals in the evening.

Snake gourd is a common vegetable in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine, particularly Ayurveda, an ancient holistic healing method. It is also used in cooking, where its mild, cucumber-like flavour complements soups, curries, and even stir-fry.

Because the mature fruit’s red flesh is used as a substitute for a tomato in Africa, locals call this vegetable the snake tomato. Snake gourd has ornamental purposes as well, with the mature, crimson fruits used for rustic decor when dried.

Snake gourd growing instructions

You may grow a variety of snake gourd hybrids in your garden. They taste the same and grow under the same conditions; the only difference is the colour of the skin and the shape and size of the fruit. Once the plants are established, growing snake gourd is a breeze. A bountiful crop, on the other hand, necessitates some forethought.

Seedlings of snake gourd

Like pumpkin or bitter melon seeds, serpent gourd seeds have a thick outer covering. The shell has minor dimples on the side and appears broken and damaged at times. However, it is much more difficult than it appears, which is why you must prepare the seeds ahead of time. Now you can purchase seeds from www.bhagatseeds.com or www.greenkyari.com .

1. Soak the seeds first.

We recommend soaking your snake gourd seeds in water for 6 hours before planting. Alternatively, spread them out between two pieces of kitchen paper and water them occasionally with a spray pump to keep the paper moist. After 24 hours, the seeds should be ready to sow.

2. Plant in seedling containers

After the seeds have been soaked, they can be planted in the soil. Although snake gourd can be sown straight outdoors, we prefer to start the plants indoors in compostable seedling pots. This way, you’ll know which seeds sprouted and which didn’t, and you’ll have more control over their growing conditions.

To begin growing snake gourd seeds indoors, You’ll need a garden soil mix and several compostable seedling pots. Fill each container halfway with earth and plant one seed in each. Seeds should be planted at a depth of 0.5 inch (1.3 cm). Water each pot and keep it in a warm, sunny location. Snake gourd is a tropical plant that requires temperatures about 80°F (27°C) to germinate.

3. Planting outside

The first snake gourd seedlings will appear after around 10 days. Water them and keep an eye on the temperature until each plant has at least two sets of leaves. Then you can begin planting them outside.

We recommend leaving seedlings in their compostable pots when transplanting them. This will protect the delicate roots and stems and prevent transplant shock. In the coming weeks, the pots will dissolve in the soil.

– Growing snake gourd in the garden

Before planting snake gourd in your garden, keep the following three points in mind:

This is a tropical plant that requires a lot of sunshine, warmth, and water.

You will need to supply it with a trellis because it is a vining plant.

Fruit requires pollination, which is best accomplished manually.

Before planting outside, make sure the temperature does not fall below 68°F (20°C). Snake gourd is a warm-season crop that thrives in temperatures ranging from 80°F to 95°F (27°C to 35°C).

2. Assistance

Can snake gourds be grown on the ground without any support systems? Yes, in theory, but it’s not perfect. Snake gourd fruit can grow to be rather long, measuring between 12 and 16 inches (30 to 40 cm). Snake gourds can be allowed to grow much longer, typically exceeding 3 feet (90 cm).

Allowing the plants to vine on trellises and other sorts of support will allow the fruit to naturally develop by hanging. Snake gourds growing on the ground rot and mould more frequently, and the fruit is more prone to be devoured by pests and insects like beetles, ants, and slugs.

3. Soil

Snake gourd isn’t finicky about the soil it grows in. A well-draining soil with a pH range of 5.8 to 6.5 and compost integrated into the mix is the best option. This plant requires moist soil, but not wet soil, which can cause root rot and wilt. If your soil has poor drainage, apply soil supplements like bark, peat moss, or leaf mould to loosen it up.

4. Space, irrigation, and fertilisation

Plant your snake gourds at a distance of at least 3 feet (90 cm). These plants grow quickly and require a lot of space to thrive. Water frequently and prevent allowing the soil to become dry or saturated, which will kill the plants. Mulch the plants’ bases to keep soil moisture in place, and use a liquid fertiliser once a month. Nitrogen-rich fertilisers, on the other hand, will increase leaf formation and less blooms and fruits.

5. Care and upkeep

To encourage lateral shoots and flowering vines, prune the vines on a regular basis, especially after the first month. Snake gourd matures in 45 days on average after planting. The flowers will appear three to four weeks after sowing. That’s a hint that you should concentrate on the next critical step in guaranteeing a great harvest: pollination.

Snake gourd blooms that pollinate

Snake gourd has little white blossoms with delicate tendrils at the petals’ edges. The male and female blooms are distinct, with the females distinguished by a large bump on the stalk.

Insects are usually responsible for pollination, but there’s a catch: the flowers only open in the evening, so you can’t rely on insects like bees or butterflies to complete the job. You will need to manually pollinate them for a successful harvest.

How are snake gourd blooms pollinated? To transmit pollen, gently brush the male flowers against the female flowers. This is best done in the evening when the blossoms are fully open. If pollination is successful, the female flower will begin to wilt after a few days, and the lump on the stem will begin to expand.

Snake gourds, unlike many other vegetables, are harvested before they mature. If you leave them for an extended period of time, the skin will toughen and the flesh will become fibrous and gelatinous. In general, if the skin begins to turn red or orange, it indicates that your snake gourds are getting ripe. You can still consume them at that point, but the flavour and culinary uses will be different.

Snake gourds do not last long after being harvested. We always recommend eating them the same day you harvest them, but if you have too many, wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for 7 to 10 days.

Growing Snake Gourd in a Small Space

Growing snake gourds in a small garden space might be challenging, but not impossible. You may also grow them in containers on your balcony if you give them lots of sunshine, warmth, and water.

1. Providing support for the vines

The biggest difficulty in cultivating snake gourds in a short space is providing adequate support. These are vining plants that love to climb and can grow up to 6 feet tall (1.8 meters). If you’re short on vertical space, encourage them to vine horizontally.

Snip the younger vines to encourage lateral growth and tie them to the trellis or railing using string. You will, however, need to give some type of support at least 3 feet (90 cm) tall so that the hanging fruit has enough area to mature.

2. Container-grown snake gourd

Begin by germinating the seeds following our germination technique above to develop snake gourds in a container. Choose a large pot with bottom drainage holes. The larger the pot, the better – at least 10 gallons is recommended (38 liters).

When is the best time to harvest snake gourd?

After you notice that the fruits have begun to grow, you can harvest your snake gourds after 2 or 3 weeks. There are numerous varieties available on the market, each yielding fruit of different girth and length. There is no standard method for determining what size gourds should be before they are ready to be picked. When in doubt, pick them as early as 2 weeks old, when the skin is firm but not rough to the touch.

Snake gourd varieties

Snake gourd comes in two variants, both of which are essentially the same species:

  • Trichosanthes cucumerina var. cucumerina: the ‘original,’ wild type that produces tiny, green, small, and pointed fruit.
  • Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina: the cultivated variation, which produces the famous long and slender fruits; some botanical authorities prefer Trichosanthes anguina to refer to the wild variety rather than the cultivated varieties, so opinions vary even among professionals.

In the case of the cultivated variety, there are two types: one that is grown for decorative purposes and one that is often used in cooking.

The ornamental snake gourd plant produces unusually long fruits with thick, stiff skin (sometimes exceeding 40 inches / 1 metre long).

The best snake gourd to use in cooking

Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina) for culinary and medicinal purposes has green skin with a waxy feel to the touch, ranges in size from 6 to 17 inches (15 to 45 cm), and can grow tall and thin or short and squat. Different countries have a wide range of types.

Snake gourds are endemic to India and have light green skin with watermelon-like green stripes. They can reach a length of 12 inches (30 cm). Snake gourds are longer in Thailand, with thin fruit that can grow to be as long as 31 inches (78 cm) and skin that is either white or pale green.The best snake gourd to use in cooking

Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina) for culinary and medicinal purposes has green skin with a waxy feel to the touch, ranges in size from 6 to 17 inches (15 to 45 cm), and can grow tall and thin or short and squat. Different countries have a wide range of types.

Snake gourds are endemic to India and have light green skin with watermelon-like green stripes. They can reach a length of 12 inches (30 cm). Snake gourds are longer in Thailand, with thin fruit that can grow to be as long as 31 inches (78 cm) and skin that is either white or pale green.

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