Snake Gourd ( Trichosanthes cucumerina) is native to India & grown for its long and slender fruits. It is a climbing vine & some varieties also produce short fruits.
Climate & soil
- It requires tropical , warm & humid climate for best growth
- it cannot tolerate heavy rainfall as flowering is greatly affected.
- very heavy rianfall will make the plant succeptable to various fungal & mycoplasma diseases
- loamy soils are preferred for its cultivation
- soil pH must be in range of 6.0 to 7.0
- every cold climate is not suitable, & it cannot tolerate frost
since we are following summer methods of cultivation, we made use of the previously made seed beds which belonged to the previous crop & previous season
- pits measuring 2 feet in diameter are made & 2 seeds sowed per each pit
- the pits must be well mixed with farm yard manure till a fine tilth is obtained.
- lite irrigation is then given
- since the seeds take a long time to germinate due to very hard seed coat, it is advised to soak the seeds in water over night before sowing
- some practices follow the soaking of the seeds in curds to activate quicker germination
- when conditions are good, the seeds germinate within 10 days. if the seeds have still not germinated, re sowing is recommended
one week after germination
12 days after germination
Irrigation & Inter Culture Operations
- light irrigation must be given immediately after sowing
- it is important to maintain the moisture level in the soil. after germination, dried leaves, etc can be used as mulch to retain moisture
- during growth stage, watering must be done at least thrice a week, when temperature is high. during later stages of growth, water intake can be reduced
- since the plant is a vine, support must be provided so that it grows & it must be trained over a bower or pandal or trellis.
- 21 days after sowing, well composted farm yard manure has to be added. care must be taken to see that the manure is well composted or it may damage the shoot.
- at this stage, while adding manure, the size of the pits must be increased by working on the sides of the pit to accommodate manure & also to provide more area for the movement of the roots. clods that are formed are destroyed , resulting is good soil aeration & porosity
- all the weeds must be removed
photo below shows rapid climbing of the vines after 35 days of sowing
Flowering & Harvest
- fruits start forming after 60 to 70 days after sowing.
- at flowering stage , one spray of plant hormones like NAA is recommended @ 1 ml in 1 litre water to increase the number of female flowers.
- fully developed tender fruits can be harvested every 4 to 5 days.
- tying a small stone to the stigmatic end of the fruits is a widely practiced method.
- under organic practices, the plant will continue to yield for up to 2 months, when conditions are favourable.
- the average yield of snake gourd is over 150 quintals per hectare.
the green fruit with longitudinal white stripes. these fruits are much more heavier than the white fruits & are medium to short in length
these white fruits yield continuously, and are less heavy compared to the green type. the fruits are soft & short.
Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza