Growing Cucurbits | Vegetable gardening | Urban Gardening, Terrace gardening and Hydroponics

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Growing Cucurbits
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Satish
New Delhi
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April 17, 2011 - 11:25 am
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This family of plants includes all the gourds, melons & squashes. In common language these are pumpkin (various types), ash gourd, bottle gourd (many shapes & varieties), sponge gourd, ridge gourd, apple gourd (also called round gourd, tinda), bitter gourd, squashes, cucumber, melons & water melons. As far as I know except for the squashes they all grow on vines and have the same growth characteristics and even similar problems. I am therefore making an humble suggestion to discuss all issues relating to these plants under this common head. While someone may be discussing problems with ridge gourd plants, I might be facing exactly the same issues with my bottle gourd plants and both could benefit from a common solution of the problem. If my view does not find general support I will request GG to remove this topic.

My problem today is that for the first time I am faced with a dearth of male flowers on my bottle gourd plants! Yesterday for example, one plant had two female flowers ready for pollination but no male flower. Another had both a male & a female flower. Yet another had only one male flower. Eventually I hand pollinated the female flowers with the pollen from the lonely male. But is there some way of ensuring a more balanced growth of male and female flowers. Another problem was that a male flower had turned black inside. Is this some disease? If so can anyone please help with the cure? I will be very grateful. Regards.

Satish

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Satish
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April 20, 2011 - 7:09 pm
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Hi folks:

Today I found that one of my bottle gourds was a little crooked and one could see a hole at the bend. And I remembered! The fruit fly has attacked. I had a lot of this problem in the first season last year and even a part of the second season both on bottle gourd as well as sponge gourd. The nursery shops tell you all sorts of strange things you could do. I must confess that in my desperation I even tried some but without luck! Insecticides were discounted because that would kill the bees too. Eventually, after some reading on the web I found that the only protection from the fruit fly was to create a physical barrier so that the fruit fly is unable to access the young fruits for injecting its eggs into it. It was recommended to wrap the young fruits in newspaper or plastic film. I had chosen normal polypropylene/polythene bags. In fact once the fruits grew to be long I even stapled another bag to the first one to extend the coverage. However I realised later that this was not necessary as the fruit fly attacks only the young tender fruit. I lost a bottle gourd today because I had forgotten all about it. I will now cover all the existing gourds as well as any new ones in plastic and am sure I will lose no more this year. This pest attacks all cucurbits and I believe that it causes similar damage to many other fruits and vegetables.

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ramna
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April 20, 2011 - 7:55 pm
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hi Satish,

 

Thankfully my garden has not been visited by the fruit flies I guess, but will keep my eyes open for these nasties, thanks for the tip!

I have a problem with my cucumber (creepers ?), they got entangled with a lot of weed growth and when clearing up the weeds (even though Fukuoka recommends not to), I seem to have broken a few of them.

They were of the variety Himangi from Namdhari,and the fruits were quite nice , any idea if the creepers will grow again or do I have to start new ones?

thanks,

ramna

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Satish
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April 21, 2011 - 11:06 am
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Hi ramna:

I think the 'broken' cucumber vines will grow new branches. Actually some people recommend removing the growing tip of cucurbit plants once they start showing female flowers/reach a length of 7' 8'. This encourages the growth of lateral branches and female flowers normally appear only on lateral branches. I think if the weeds are not very tall it might be a good idea to retain them in thje case of cucumber. They provide a cushion for the 'new' cucumbers as also a physical barrier between the new fruits and the moisture on the ground. Wishing you a bountiful harvest of cucumbers! Regards.

Satish

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Satish
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April 21, 2011 - 7:28 pm
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Hi folks:

Today I wish to share with you my very recent experience (in fact still on going!) with growing the gourds. We all have problems with the ratio of female male flowers on these plants. I have had these difficulties too. This time I had five bottle gourd plants growing in one small area. All of them started from the seeds of one packet of a very reputable company. One could therefore safely presume that they were all of the same variety. Each was/is growing at a different rate and has different sizes of leaves. In each case I 'snipped' off the growing type the moment a female flower appeared on it. The longest vine which also had the largest leaves produced a few male flowers and then came a continuous production of female flowers. Only two of the female flowers on this vine could be hand-pollinated from its own male flowers. To pollinate the others I had to borrow 'spare' male flowers from the other plants. I currently have six small gourds hanging on this 8 feet long vine. The next largest has slightly smaller leaves has so far produced three female flowers and quite a few male flowers. The third largest has so far produced only one female flower and an abundance of male flowers. The last two are still rather small, have the smallest of leaves and have started showing signs of male buds. I found this vast variation in the growth pattern and 'behaviour' of five plants grown from the same type of seeds, in the same soil and fed with the same nutrients very puzzling to say the least. While I was explaining away this puzzle to myself by describing it as 'one of those curiosities of nature', it kept on irritating me. Then three days ago the reason for this variation struck me out of the blue and I studied it carefully for two more days before deciding to share it with you. SUNSHINE is the reason for all the variations that I have reported! I had always known that the leaves are bigger in plants that get the most sunshine which also grow the fastest. But it is a revelation to me that even the ratio of male:female flowers depends largely on the amount of sunshine each plant receives. The more sunshine a plant gets, larger will be the number of female flowers it produces in comparision to the number of male flowers. In the present case, plant no.1 (the largest, and with max female flowers)) starts receiving sunshine as soon as the sun comes up. Plant no.2 (second largest, with half as many female flowers) starts receiving sunshine about one and half hours later. Plant no.3 (third largest, with only one female flower) gets sunshine about an hour after the second. The two small plants receive very little, filtered sunshine. See the connection? If you want your cucurbit plants to produce more female flowers, make sure you plant them where they are assured of a lot of sunshine!! I am sure some of you must have some experiences in this regard and it will be very nice to learn from them.

Regards

Satish

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Satish
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April 27, 2011 - 6:12 pm
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Hi everyone:

THIS IS AN SOS MESSAGE. I have a problem with my bottle gourd plants and seek your collective help. I am hopeful that some member of this blog will know about this. The male buds/flowers have very small white/cream worms inside. By the time the flower opens up the anders as well as the pollen have become a brown/black mass and are therefore not available for pollination of the female. I was thinking of spraying some insecticide but am wondering how I will spray any insecticide inside the closed buds! Any help will be gratefully received. Thanks & regards.

Satish

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greenenthu
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April 28, 2011 - 11:53 am
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Hi Satish

Even I am facing problems with my gourds. My bitter gourds(5 plants) have only male flowers. I tried every method suggested by you. But not a single female flower. Besides this pumpkin female flowers drop after a week of hand pollination.Cry It seems growing cucurbits is very tough. Do you or any fellow gardener have any suggestions for my problems? 

Thanks in advance

Greenenthu

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geekgardener
Bangalore, India
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June 9, 2011 - 5:18 pm
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Hi Satish,

From the description you gave, it looks like it must be fruit borer or pickleworm. The adult worm lays eggs into the flower and those when they hatch, starts eating the flower from inside. From the sources I read, it is nocturnal. Applying an insecticide early in the cycle might help.

Last month, Me and wifey went to my friends farm and there were lots of Rose apple fruits ( fruit smells like rose ). The fruits looked perfect from the outside . just flawless and not a speck. But when I opened it, worms, 10s of them. The eggs are laid when the flower starts to develop into a fruit.

Keep us posted.
GG

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frangipani
Kolkata
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April 7, 2015 - 12:21 pm
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My ridge gourd (jhinge) and pumpkin (kumro) female flowers are browning and dropping off. I hand-pollinated the kumro, thinking maybe lack of bees on my roof was the issue, but it still fell off. And I can't ever see the jhinge female flowers open! Do they open at night? It's very disheartening to see so many tiny fruit emerge but none growing. My neighbour suggested adding bonemeal to encourage better fruiting - does that sound right? I don't know how to go about it at this stage, even though I do have some powdered bone meal. Am not sure if the tiny fruit drying up is because of pollination, or inadequate nutrition in the potting soil.

Also, my male pumpkin flowers have these white worms too!! I didn't realize they are a problem! Satish what did you do to get rid of them?

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Srikanth
Serilingampally, Hyderabad
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April 13, 2015 - 1:11 pm
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If you are hand pollinating and yet the flowers are falling off suggests that it could be lack of fertilizer. Try giving some complex fertilizer such as 19-19-19.

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Srikanth

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