This post is contributed by Shashank, an avid gardener and also reader of my blog. Thanks Shashank for having come forward to share your knowledge and experience on growing bird house gourds.

Ok, I’ll stop my quack quack here,  over to Shashank.

Gourd Pictures 004-mod1

Gourd Pictures 012

 

I started with seeds I got from USA and my first crop experience was not so successful.

However I could save seeds from my first gourd and my second crop is in much better shape.

Germination:-

  • Pre-soaked seeds for 48 hours.
  • Cocopeat was used for sowing seeds.
  • Seeds sprouted in 6-8 days.
  • First true leaves in 10-12 days
  • Ready for transplantation in about 3 weeks.

Potting Mix :-

  • Cocopeat + Rice husk + Compost in equal proportion
  • Container size 20 liter
  • Side drainage using tank nipple

Fertigation:-

  • Water soluble 19-19-19, 3 gms / liter  ( I am not sure if this is the right concentration. Suggestions welcome)
  • Water soluble Calcium Nitrate once in 2 weeks, 3gms / liter
  • Another dose of compost after 2 months

 

Gourd Pictures 001

Gourd Pictures 003

 

 

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Seedlings for next crop of Indian bottle gourd

Well now the challenging part. Journey was not so smooth.  Last one week plants went into shock mode after leaf miner and caterpillar attack. Rising temperatures in Pune is also contributing to slowing down of growth. On top of it I had to discard around 15 small gourds getting infected by fruit-flies.

Diseases:-

·       Leaf miner

·       Caterpillars attack

·       Fruit-flies attack

I tried spraying neem oil. However had to go for chemical insecticides and fungicides to control leaf miner and caterpillars.

Currently plants are recovering from the shock. Of course as my objective was to get few but large size gourds to make bird houses, I am satisfied with the outcome and learning

— Shashank.

 

GG is back,

Some of you might have a question on those yellow boards that are seen in the pic. That is nothing but sticky yellow trap to catch whiteflies, fruitflies, winged aphids and anything that falls for a flashy yellow color smeared with oil/grease. This is a good way to reduce the number of whiteflies and also as an indicator that they are present and regularly visit your garden.

Enjoy!.

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59 Responses

  1. Interesting Shashank and thanks for sharing your experience. Looks like you are enjoying a bumper harvest too!
    I have had failure with gourds (Bitter gourd, Cucumber).. a few times that its fairly discouraging. Your leaves look pretty healthy. Have you faced a condition where the lower leaves on the plant start turning yellow and the plant itself gradually dries up from the base upwards? Does anyone have a remedy for that?

    • Hi Asha,

      Yellowing of older leaves can be due to the aging and also because of deficiency of nitrogen. How are the younger leaves do they show any defects?

      gg

    • Hello Asha

      Yes before getting intoBottle Gourds, I have tried both Bitter Gourds and Cucumbers. My experience too was very discouraging. They require lot of attention and VERY regular spraying of insecticides. Leaf miner and powdery Mildew continuesly attack these family of plants and substantially affects the yield.

      I found Gourds more hardy for Powdery Mildew but not so for leaf miners and mites. Also fruits very often get infects immediately after pollination. I am now experimenting with plastic/cloth fruit caps to cover the fruits immediately after hand pollination. Will share the results.

      I feel natural death of cucurbit family vines is very common. Typically any time after 3 months. And it comes without any notice, you wake up in the morning to find the whole vine is dead.

      GG sorry for responding in your blog, I hope you don’t mind.

      Shashank

      • Hi Shashank,

        Please respond to queries by all means. I don’t have any issue at all and in fact I welcome more interaction, which is why I suggested you subscribe to the comments.

        GG

      • Hi Shashank,

        You have very well summarized the problem with gourds in a nutshell. I have faced exactly the same issues in growing them but probably was not able to put it out so well in my posts.
        “Also fruits very often get infects immediately after pollination.” – I guess 50-60% of my bottle gourds/cucumbers suffered this fate and I wasn’t even able to figure out the cause (no visible pests around).
        The older leaves are more prone to powdery mildew attack and often that’s the signal of end of their life cycle.
        Will eagerly wait for your update on the ‘cap’ experimentation.
        I am currently growing cucumber and it’s infected with leaf miners just as the true leafs starting to come out :(. Would you know of any organic solution for them ??

        All said and done, bottle gourd and cucumber are the some of the most prolific producer i have come across. So, I would say it’s worth the effort 🙂

        Regards
        Raj

  2. Great post. Thanks a lot for sharing. I am trying ‘normal’ bottle gourds (doodhi) right now. 2 female flowers dried out – I dont think it was lack of pollination since I hand-pollinated them myself. There are now 5 new female flowers so keeping fingers crossed!

    • Hi Atul,

      I don’t know which part of the world you are from, but in Pune it is hotting up like anything. We have already reached May temperatures. Typically I am observing that Gourd vines have stop producing female flowers, vines have stopped growing and groing tip is converted into a bunch of male flowers, which ofcourse needs to be trimmed.

      Also now there is increased chance of babay gourds getting infected. I suggest you cover it with a small plastic bag (with tiny perforations) as soon as you do hand polination.

      Shashank

      • Surprise – I am in Pune too!

        Yes, its been getting extremely hot lately. However, my vines are producing a lot of female flowers. I find that by the time the female flower opens, half of them have a large swollen ovary, while in the other half, the ovary remains unswollen though it has a distinctly gourd-like shape typical of the female flower. Only the swollen flowers will go on to produce gourds. However of these, some of them get infected – they start going brown – in some cases uniformly while in some cases in the form of a dark band in the middle of the gourd. Still others will start to enlarge but will abort soon – I think from lack of water or improper pollination. Only the remaining few gourds may enlarge and go on to become full-size gourds. Luckily I currently have 1 which has enlarged to the size of a palm which has a good chance (fingers crossed!!). 1 out of almost 10 females. Are these normal numbers for gourds?

        Some questions for you, gg or others:
        1. My chili peppers have started dropping blossoms – is this becuase of the heat too?

        2. I read somewhere that capsicum, bell peppers require cooler climate – is that true? My young plants have started showing flower buds but will these drop too due to heat?

        BTW, gg, just yesterday, I finished making a greenhouse like structure from bamboo, its only covered from top (for the intense sun) and not from sides. If you want, I can write a guest post describing this process in detail including materials, costs, etc.

        -atul

        • Hi Atul,

          Yes Capsicum needs a cooler climate but can handle current weather in Bangalore as I am getting some peppers from my plants ;).

          Sure, You can send me the write up and I will post it. It will for sure help out people who are planning to do a shadehouse at low cost. Appreciate it.
          gg

        • Atul,

          How about connecting. I am extremely interested in knowing about bamboo greenhouse. I can be reach on 98901 99363.

          Shashank

        • An update with good news:

          I have successfully harvested 3 gourds. They were not huge like you get in market, but were medium sized. I think that’s becuase the container is a bit small. Also, the medium is 100% compost which does not hold water very well (as a result, I have to water 3 times a day!). Nevertheless, the gourds were very juicy and sweet and I ate the ‘bhaji’ with relish! For my next plants, I will use larger container and use 50-50 soil-compost.

          The plants have 2 new gourds currently forming.

          BTW, regarding the bamboo greenshouse, the initial construction was a bit weak and one of the poles toppled when we had a very strong wind one day. I fortified the structure with horizontal bars and it feels a lot sturdy now. Lets wait for a few more weeks and see if any other modifications are necessary and then I will send a writeup with pictures also.

  3. hi! my first time here and really thankful that I chanced upon your blog. I am starting my real garden this year. I used to have a window garden which was not that successful. Hopefully this time would be better.
    Thanks for that post about coriander which is my favorite herb. I would try that soon.
    I guess I will need to come back to finish reading your archives :=) Bye for now.

    • Emm,

      Thanks for stopping by and wishing you good luck on your new garden. Do share your experiences and pics as well.

  4. Shashank,

    Where did you get the yellow sticky traps from? If you made it yourself, how did you make it? The problem I am facing is with the sticky material. I am not sure what is the sticky material that is easily available in India.

    -Srikanth

    • Hello Srikanth

      Use any yello coloured thick or cardboard paper and apply castor oil. Within 2 weeks you will see that the trap is full of tiny black and white insects. You need to wash and reapply castor oil.

      Shashank

  5. Lovely!! I have been looking for some kind of bird feeder’s or nest for my garden since sometime now. Never knew this kind of gourds exist.

    @Shashank, Are you using those dried gourd’s as bird nests ? Is there anyway we can get few seeds from you here in Bangalore.

    • Hello GG and others,

      Thank you for your responses.

      Some of you have asked if I could share the seed. Ofcourse yes. Currently Gourds are under drying process and I should get some fresh seeds by middle of May. People imterested please mail me your addresses and I will courer you the seeds.

      As regards using gourd as bird house: My first crop gourds were thin shelled and hence i am using them as decorative pieces. I am expectine current crop to provide me few thick shelled gourds ahich I will use as bird houses. In adition to brid houses one can use them in making art work which is as good as wooden artifacts

      Shashank

  6. hey gg!!

    like i mentioned earlier on ,im using some of your pictures for my presentation on hydroponics ! i am referencing this blog ! dont be surprised if you alot of new faces !:)

  7. Hi All,

    Does anyone know what is the nutirent formula for Eggplants, Chillies and Okra if I grow these using hydroponic.

    I got the formulas for Tomatoes and Capsicum from http://www.tomatoland.net but not all.

    Is there any common formula that can be used for all.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Deepak

    • Hi Deepak,

      I have used the nutrients i use for tomato, for eggplants as well and have got very good results. I think chillies can do with lesser concentration of nutrients than tomatoes. Haven’t tried Okra so far.
      I use the formula from http://www.howardresh.com/Hydroponic-Culture-of-tomatoes.html

      Though you can use a single formula for all, you might not get the best yield since the nutrient requirement differs from plant to plant.

      • Thanks for the information.

        It is good to see that there are many websites giving information on Hydroponics but I still didnot find any site which gives complete information on nutrients for each and every plant that can be grown using hydroponics.

        I found few books on books.google.com giving information but then it is too technical for a common person to understand.

        Also need one more information from you.

        I am seeting up the airstone bubbler (http://www.tomatoland.net/edurink_site/pages/simplebubbler.html) system.

        Do i need to keep the airpump ON for 24 hours in this case ??

        Thanks & Regards,

        Deepak

          • Thnaks for the update.

            I have got my plants transferred tomorrow into the Hydroponic system but while transfeering I found few roots got broken.

            Will it cause any issue…??

            Do I need to keep plants in shade or some sunlight is good for the plants ??

            Thanks & Regards,

            Deepak

          • Hi Deepak,

            I think some roots getting broken is fine. Again it depends on the plant you are transplanting. Till the plant picks up keep it in partial sunlight and then you can move it.

            gg

        • Yes. You do need to keep it running 24/7 but then it only takes about 2.5W/hr to run.

          I had not had great success with Hydroponics as yet. I had a decent crop of Spinach but my biggest hope, Tomato, was disappointing. I had a yield of about 4 KGs from 4 plants. I was actually expecting at least 5 KG/plant. I had let my Hydroponic setup accidentally run dry twice which resulted in wilting of leafs and dropping of flowers. That might have had some impact on the yield.

          I now have two month old tomato cuttings that have started flowering. I will have to see how that turns out.

          Also, the Marmande seeds have germinated 3 days ago in cocopeat. I will transplant them in a month’s time.

          Any idea what is the gap between the first flush of tomatoes and the second flowering? How many flushes/flowering can be expected for a tomato plant? What is the life of a tomato plant (indeterminate variety)?

          Srikanth

          • Srikanth,

            Tomato ( the indeterminate ones[IND]) flower at every other node ( actually little above the alternate nodes). There is no specific timeline that I know of. INDs continue to grow and yield as long as there is good growing condition(upto an year i guess). How tall are your plants? My marmande tomatoes are little less than 8 feet now and are still yielding ( although a little less than before). IND can grow 25-30 feet when grown in hydroponics. You need to irrigate the plants multiple times per day.
            Also, if you are using Deep water culture, the oxygen supply for root is depleted very quickly. Check the roots. If they are brown, they are starving for oxygen. I have seen good results with Cocopeat.
            I have a setup with Growbags using drip now and is showing a good response. Will post about it in my next post.
            gg

          • GG,

            I started them on Nov 30. They are about 4 feet tall now. Yes the roots are brown in color with mild algae infestation to the sides of the DWC container. I have now wrapped it in Black Polyethen covers.

            I planning to move them to a new larger DWC container and add more aeration. Can tomato plants withstand high summer temps of Hyderabad (can go up to 45 C)? Do I have to provide shade?

            25 feet is too big. I can manage up to 10 feet max.

          • Srikanth,

            45C I think is too much. They can use some shade actually. Also, nutrient consumption will be more in such conditions. In 35% shade, the toms here are doing well. Try some shade. I have sent a PM to you.

            gg

  8. HI,

    I happened to stumble upon your blog today! What a nice blog it is. I love the way you have grown your plants in garden. I too want to get few tips from you. I already have few plants grow in pots.

    Please let me know how should we grow zennia, as it has dried out even when watered properly.

    • Hi Sahana,

      Welcome to my blog. Regarding Zinnia, they are easy to grow as long as you have a well drained soil and bright location. It needs good sunlight but can handle little shade sometimes. A plant can dry out for many reasons, it is a young plant or old?
      Is it fertilized too much?

      gg

  9. I think y’day I added this info at the comment of old post, so
    writing again.

    Good News to Panchgavya Lookers at Chennai

    I got it from Imran of v4organic. You may contact the following persons.

    Imran 9841792530 / Jayprakash 9600877686 / Vincent 9940525151

    Try your luck, all the best

    Vinaya

    Reply

  10. hi GG and other bloggers

    I have totally unrelated question.
    Im planning buy a small composter .

    Anybody know how to use it.Before buying I would like to know how to go about it.

    Thanks to all
    Chitra

    • Hi Chitra,

      May be I can offer some help here from my 6-8 month’s of experience of using a composter from dailydump.org.
      There is not much to do in a composter. Basically it’s a kind of dustbin, where you put all your bio-degradable scraps and wastes. Things like vegetable peels, rotten vegetables, plant leaves etc etc.. dailydump site gives a very good listing of things to put and not to put.
      You need to turn the compost pile once in a while for better aeration (that’s why it’s called aero-composting).

      One word of caution
      1. It’s better if you have have a place where you can tolerate few ant’s, fleas etc.. once in a while for putting the composter.

      Regards
      Raj

  11. I’ve been growing the round gourds which I dry to use for my crafting but like you, I found that I was getting thin-shelled gourds. A friend of mine suggested that the reason could be excessive watering (I plant my crop during the monsoons) or it could just be the variety that I’m growing since most gourds used for food benefit from thin shell.
    I read that you expect to get harder-shelled gourds this time around. Have you changed anything in the culture?

    • Hello Sunita,

      What I have tried this time is to limit no. of gourds to one or two per vine. While they are still on the vine getting matured, from the feel of it, I am expecting them to be thicker than the one i got last time.

      Which kind of variety are you growing? Do you dry them in full sun or under the shade?

      The variety I am growing is not edible.

      Shashank

  12. Hi GG, Shashank:

    I am reading this blog entry rather late, due to my pre-occupation with a lot of challenges faced by me last month.
    I just wanted to share the pleasant experience I have with respect to growing Bottle gourds. I got motivated by Shashank who had mentioned earlier that it is easy to grow them. The plant takes a long time to grow upto 6 feet , about 2 months; once it reaches this height, there is no going back, it just grows.
    Initially ,I did the horrible mistake of pruning the tips , even before I got the first fruit , the result of reading too much on the net, I guess! (pruning results in promotion of lateral branches which bear the female flowers, the main branch holds the male flowers). The plant took quite some time to recover from this shock; later, I found out that pruning is to be done only after the plant has started yielding. The plant forgave me and yielded 4 bottle gourds, averaging 1.55 kg. One of them weighed a massive 2 Kg, but my maid suggests that I do the harvest when it is just above 1 kg. The plant paused during the fruiting stage, once I harvested, it showed growth again. I mustered courage and did pruning of the main branch. This time, I got 4 fruits. And once the harvest was completed, it paused for some time. I did not do any pruning, it started growing profusely and there are about 5-6 fruits now.

    My observations:
    1. The plant could take the scorching heat of Bangalore,especially last month. It grows in the western part of my terrace, fully exposed to the sun during the day.
    2. Pausing is quite normal, during the fruiting stage. Best to harvest when the fruit weighs between 1 kg and 1.5 kg.
    3. I do regular watering , twice a day. The plant seems to be fine with this.
    4. My fertilizer regime was simple; whatever organic manure I got, I applied. This included home made compost (I use the Kamba from Daily Dump), pungamia cake, neem cake, neem seed powder, dried cow dung. Frequency is typically once in 10-12 days. I am not clear about the NPK ratio, though. I do PG spray once in 10 days.
    5. I read that asafetida is a very good pest repellant and it also promotes flowering, for ridge gourd plants. I applied a piece of it at the roots, once, for the bottle gourd plant as well.
    6. The plant loves horizontal space. It does not like climbing up. I have got a permanent trellis on the terrace, on which it grows quite happily. I have another bottle gourd plant, struggling to grow at 45 deg.angle (using ropes ) and its growth is nowhere near the one I am talking about, other things remaining the same.
    7. I do hand pollination, again motivated by Shashank’s words in one of his earlier blog comment. I enjoy it, although I wonder whether it is best left to Mother Nature!
    I will take some pictures tomorrow morning and share the same with you all…

    Regards
    Meena K

    • Really nice harvest Meena. It was a pleasure to watch the pics too.

      Great work. You have inspired me to start bottle gourd now. Here I go!..

      gg

  13. Hi gg, Shashank and the rest of us!
    The non maturing of gourds and the fruit fly were major problems in addition to the furious heat in Delhi and I could not get even one mature gourd from 7 vines! Each person I talked to gave me a different reply. While one blamed this condition on water stress, another suggested that excess Nitrogen was responsible. One person suggested it was due to Phosphorus deficiency and yet another blamed Calcium stress for my misery! Lastly, when nothing worked, I was told to wait for some Northern disturbance to cause some rain!! After reading all the wonderful comments on this blog, I tried hand pollination and putting on a plastic bag on each ‘young one’ to protect them from the deadly fruit flies. I am happy to report total success thereafter. My misery was replaced by total bliss within a few days. I have already harvested a few gourds and quite a few are on the way. I do the hand pollination early morning because after that the flowers start shriveling and drying up. In the beginning I covered the pollinated embryo with a small PP bag after making a small opening in the sealed side, slipping the young one in and then stapling the top carefully. I realised my mistake very soon and had to change the bag to one of 1 kg size. Lo and behold I was wrong again! Within two days I had to staple another 1 kg bag to the previous one after cutting away the sealed end. When the gourds reached about 18″ I harvested them not only because I was scared of them getting too mature but also because I would have had to add another PP bag to the previous ones. I am now trying to procure PP tubing of about 4″ width and then I will just cut about 20″ and slip it onto each ‘young one’. I have tasted success with the bottle gourd because of all of you. Each post provided some idea. This is your success! THANKS A MILLION (GOURDS?) TO EACH OF YOU.
    Satish Dayal

    • This is awesome!. We are very happy to hear this and appreciate the good work. Your passion is simply amazing.

      Continue your great work and keep us posted.

      GG

  14. I am going to try making my own gourd birdhouses and have collected seed to plant. How long from planting until harvest? In Iowa we often have early frost. I tried making my first gourd birdhouse last week and used a wood drill bit. Split the gourd wide open. At least I have the seeds. I sell other peoples gourd birdhouses on http://www.birdhousespecials.com, but really want to be able to make my own. Get some of the creative talents out.

    • Nice work. It takes about 2 months for the plant to start yielding and harvesting the gourd can take upto a month.

      I can see how challenging it must be for you to grow gourds since they are sun loving.

      Good luck
      gg

  15. Hi, I have planted cucumber, ash gourd and bitter gourd all in pots. The bitter gourd is growing well, but after 3 months there are only male flowers. There was one fruit and it turned yellow very soon. Now some leaves are yellowing.
    The ash gourd was growing well and suddenly now its stopped growing and the leaves are yellowing and wilting. There is new growth but they are like small nodes where micro leaves are trying to grow, but extremely slow. Even the cucumber vine which was growing well is wilting now.
    Feeling very sad. I am in Delhi the temp is around 40-42 degrees. Is it due to the heat? Will a layer of shade help?
    Thanks in advance. Will post pictures soon
    Lata

    • All the symptoms you are mentioning speaks of nutrient deficiency. Please post pics of it. 40-42 is indeed on the higher side. A layer of shade will definitely help. Are the leaf tips scorching?

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