Saturday, September 22, 2012

My first homegrown bittergourd

Some of you might know, my mother loves gardening. We have a long corridor of plants, usually flowering plants and some herbs. Recently, she starts growing a variety of chillies, which I will blog another time.

Now, it's about our very first homegrown bittergourd, which also starts my recent interest in gardening. We don't really know when this bittergourd started growing in our gardening. We always use water that is used to wash vegetables to water our plants. Some bittergourd seeds must have sprouted and grow and cling around all the other plants.

 My first lesson in gardening is identifying plants and its leaves.

My second lesson is identifying the male flowers and female flowers. Female flowers have an obvious baby fruit behind the petals whereas you don’t find any behind the petals of the male flower (more info here).

We spotted the very first female flower on 15 August 2012. And hoping that it will turn into a fruit succesfully, I tried to hand-pollinate the flower. Pluck the male flower and strip off its petals. Lightly brush the pollen-laden anthers of the male flower with the pistil of the female flower. In doing so, you transfer the pollen from the male flower to the female flower.

On the 3rd day after pollination on 18 August 2012, the fruit had visibly grown larger to about 3cm long. Our bittergourd is successfully pollinated!

This was our 1-week old bittergourd on 22 August 2012. It was growing very fast at 8cm long already.

Our 2-week old bittergourd on 29 August 2012 at 12cm long, growing slower.

On the 3rd week on 5 September 2012, the bittergourd has ripened and we had to harvest it.

Look at our first bittergourd! It weighs 156g and 14.5cm long. Compared to the one we bought at the market, it is considered small. But we are already very happy because it is our first time growing! When the bittergourd is ripe enough, the pulp surrounding the seeds is red. Remove the pulp and you can save the seeds to grow again.

Currently, we have another 2 bittergourds growing and they are not hand-pollinated. The ants must have helped them to pollinate!