Bitter melon is a long, thin, warted melon shaped like a cucumber that is originally from Asia. As indicated by the name, it has a bitter taste and is usually used in stir-fry or soup. The bitter melon grows only in the warmest regions of the United States, where the temperature never drops below -6.67 degrees Celsius. From seed, it takes about 75 days to mature, and fruits must be harvested every day to prevent them from growing too big. With some knowledge and the right location you can grow your own bitter melon from seed.
Soak the bitter melon seeds in water for 48 hours before you plant them. This will start the seedlings and soften them for planting.
Choose an area with well-drained, loamy soil. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep when the temperatures are consistently above 7.22 degrees Celsius. Work a fertiliser high in phosphorus into the soil before planting.
Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. The bitter melon needs lots of water to thrive. Place a 2-to-3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant once it has sprouted to retain moisture around the plant's roots and prevent weeds.
Provide a trellis support and train the bitter melon vines towards it. This will keep the vines and fruit up off the ground, protecting them from pests and rotting.
Fertilise with nitrogen after the plant has been in the ground for 30 days and then after 60 days as well. This will keep the vines growing strong.
Things you need
- Bitter melon seed
- Fertiliser (phosphorus)
- Fertiliser (nitrogen)