Bitter melon is a wonderful plant to consider for a garden or to grow in pots. This plant is an ancient Asian delicacy used as a vegetable and as a natural medicinal preparation. Bitter melon is a green color and has a somewhat bulbous shape. It’s recognized most by the bumps on the outer skin. The process of learning how to plant bitter melon is quite straight forward for experienced gardeners.
It’s advisable to prepare the soil before planting bitter melon by fertilizing with composted materials. Bitter melon needs a growing season of at least three months of full daytime sun and cooler evening temperatures. Proper temperature and sufficient water are the most important components of a healthy bitter melon plan.
Grow Bitter Melon
Bitter melon can be grown in outdoor gardens or in pots. The seeds for bitter melon can be difficult to find. Try purchasing them online or from an Asian natural foods store. First, soak the seeds in water for one or two days or until they begin to expand in size. Bitter melon needs moist soil to get the plant started properly.
Plant bitter melon seeds three quarters of an inch deep in moist soil. Water frequently for up to seven days in the early stages of planting. Plants can be started indoors and transplanted after temperatures have reached at least sixty degrees. Bitter melon seedlings should be transplanted when sturdy leaves begin to appear. Soon after planting, green shoots begin to appear. From this point, allow the soil to dry naturally with infrequent watering.
Plant Bitter Melon in Mounds of Soil
As with most melon plants, keep a mound of soil around the base of the bitter melon plant to insure the plant has proper support. As the plant begins to expand in growth, consider using a trellis or frame support. Bitter melon will begin to grow into a long vine that can be trained along the trellis or support frame.
It’s not advisable to allow bitter melon to grow along the ground. This will encourage plant rot and insects. If insects become a problem, dust or spray with regular insect repellent for garden use. Depending, on the particular growing season, bitter melon will bear fruit in about eighty days.
Bitter Melon in Pots
Bitter melon is an attractive potting plant that may be grown indoors in a sunny room. Start the plant from seeds that have been soaked and transfer to a large pot with good drainage. Potting a bitter melon plant makes an interesting conversation piece as it begins to bear fruit. Collect seeds from inside the melon and dry them for several months to create additional plantings.
Using Bitter Melon
Bitter melon is used in many stir fry recipes. As a cucumber-like plant, the outer skin should be properly washed and allowed to dry before cooking. Remove seeds and fibers in the core before cooking. It may be stored in the refrigerator. Bitter melon should be used at its peak when the flesh is still firm to the touch. Rinsing with water or soaking in salted water before cooking may remove some of the bitter taste. Leaves of bitter melon may be harmful when ingested.