Snake gourd, a light green snake-like vegetable with a grey-white bloom on the skin. Parval is ethnic to india, especially north. Parval is an elongated gourd that grows from creepers and is light green in color. Snake gourd belongs to cucumber family and is native to india. Snake gourd is a climbing herb with tendrils divided into three parts. It has hairy, angular or 5 to 7 lobed leaves. It has white cylindrical, slender, tapering fruits with a waxy surface. Its fruits are orange in color when ripe and pulpy red at maturity.
HOW TO GROW
- Determine when to plant.Gourds will grow in most climate zones, but they grow the best in hot weather. If you’re in a location that receives freezing temperatures throughout most of the winter, you will have to start your gourds as seeds indoors prior to sewing them outside. Gourds take about 180 days total from planting till they produce ripe fruit, as a result of their extra long germination process. Keep in mind that if you’re in a cold area, you’ll need to start your seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost of the season.
Gourds grow best in temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Starting gourds indoors simply involves planting the seeds in individual containers and watering on a daily basis.
- Decide whether or not to use a trellis. Trellises are wood or wire constructs built to hold plants off the ground, and in the case of gourds, are used primarily to encourage unique shapes. You do not need a trellis to grow your gourds, as they will grow fine on the ground. However, gourds that grow on the ground will have a flat side where they lay, while gourds that grow on trellises will maintain their rounded shapes. If you decide to use a trellis, set it up prior to planting your gourds, and then stake the plants to it over time.
- Large, heavy varieties (like bottle gourds) will require a combination wood and heavy wire trellis in order to support them without falling over.
- Small gourd varieties can be grown using a large tomato cage as the trellis.
- Luffa (vegetable sponge gourds) almost always need to be trellised.
- Select a planting location.Gourds should be planted outdoors in full sunlight, with plenty of space to sprawl. Although they can be grown in pots, this will significantly limit their size and overall production. If you’re planting your gourds without a trellis, choose a space with plenty of square footage for growth. Otherwise, stake your trellis out in a wide area with plenty of sunlight and little shade.
- Prepare the soil.It isn’t too tricky to get soil under the proper conditions for gourds, making them easy to grow in most locations. They like plenty of moisture with a bit more clay than sand (meaning they may not thrive in sandy soil). Test the pHof your garden plot to see if it is in the best range for gourds; they like acidic soil in the range of 5.8 to 6.4. If your pH is too high, incorporate peat moss to increase the acidity.
- Scarify the seeds.Gourds are infamous for their tough outer seed shell, which is partly responsible for their extra long germination period. To prevent your seeds/gourds from rotting because they took too long to germinate, you can scarify them to speed the process. Use an emery board (paper nail file) or a smooth sandpaper to scratch up the outer surface of the seeds. This shouldn’t take too long; the rough paper should just roughen the coating of both sides of the seed.
- Soak the seeds.After the seeds have been scarified, place them in a bowl of lukewarm water and allow them to soak. This should be done for a total of 24 hours, in order to help speed up the germination process.
- Let the seeds dry.After soaking for 24 hours, remove the seeds from the water and lay them out to dry on a piece of wax paper. Giving them time to completely dry out will prevent them from rotting before even sprouting.
- Start your seeds.It’s a good idea to give your seeds a head start (even if you’re in a warmer area) by planting them in starter sets indoors. Fill small seed trays with your prepared soil, and place a single seed in each slot. Give daily watering until you’re ready to transplant the sprouts outdoors, typically after the last frost of the winter
- Dig your rows/holes.In the location you’ve selected for your garden plot, use a small trowel or shovel to prepare the holes for the gourd seedlings. If you’re planting many gourds at once, space your rows so that they are at least 5 feet (1.5 m) apart, and so that there is 2 feet (0.6 m) of space between each gourd in a single row.
- Keep your rows near your trellis if you’re using one.
- Plant the gourds.Place each small seedling or seed into its own individual hole; don’t group several in the same space. Cover up the seeds with ½ inch of dirt, and cover seedlings to the base of the new growth.
- Care for your newly planted gourds.At planting, water the gourd seeds heavily so as to reduce the risk of transplant shock. Gourds like plenty of moisture, so make sure the soil is damp by adding water on a daily basis if necessary. Remove weeds as they sprout, as these will steal valuable nutrients and growing space from the gourds. If you’re using a trellis, as the gourds grow in size you can use a bit of string to secure them to the posts and give them plenty of room for growth.
- Add a layer of mulch to the garden plot to lock in moisture and block out new weeds.
- Consider incorporating an equal-part fertilizer (like a 10-10-10 mixture) to the soil every few months.
- Give your gourds extra water when the weather is particularly dry or hot, to maintain a high level of moisture in the soil
- Leave the gourds to cure on the vine.When your gourds have reached their full size, the vine they’re growing on will start to die off on its own. At this point your gourds are ready for harvesting, but you’ll make the job a lot easier on yourself if you leave them to cure on the vine. Give them several weeks to a month for the curing process to occur; as you check in on them, you’ll notice them getting lighter and lighter. Unless you notice animals and bugs eating the gourds, there’s no fear of rotting or going bad.
- If you have to cut the gourds early, wait till the vine at the top of the gourd has turned completely brown and dry.
- Turn the gourds occasionally and move them around to keep them from touching.
- .Remove the gourds.The curing time varies from gourd to gourd depending on its size (and therefore water content). Check the gourds on a weekly basis to tell if they’re ready. Feel the skin and check the firmness of the gourds; if they are at all soft or squishy, they are rotten and should be thrown out. When the skin feels hard and slightly waxy to the touch, they are likely ready to be cut. Shake the gourd as the final test to see if they are fully cured; if they are ready, they’ll sound like a rattle with the seeds banging around on the inside. Use a pair of scissors or shears to cut the gourds from the vine.
- Treat the shell of the gourd.Although it is not required, you can treat the shell of the gourd to change its appearance and to help it last longer. Wash the gourd with a bit of dish detergent and warm water to kill off any bacteria. You can then use a bit of sandpaper or steel wool to shine the outside of the gourd, and add a layer of wax or shellac to finish off the shine. You can decorate gourds by painting the outsides as well.
- Consider saving the seeds.Your gourd will last for many years with the seeds inside, but if you would like to save the seeds for the next year’s planting, you may do so. Cut the gourd open to remove the seeds from the inside. Follow the same process of propagating the seeds (as aforementioned) to help speed up their growth. You can keep the shell of the old gourd, and you’ll have the seeds to create plenty of new gourds as well.
Snake gourd care is similar to that of most other gourds. Prune the plant’s lateral branches to increase fruit set and production. Some people tie a pebble or other weight to the flower end of the gourd to foster a straighter fruit, but this is just for aesthetics. There is no need to do so.
The most serious pest damaging the young fruits is Daucus cucurbitae
Leaf eating caterpillar ( Diaphania indica) is the most serious pest where damage to the plant is highest.
- Snake gourd has been used as a diuretic in traditional medicine for many years, as it stimulates the liver and increases urination, thereby speeding up the elimination of toxins from the body. It also increases the creation of bodily fluids, which can eliminate dryness and dehydration, which also helps in the normal functioning of the kidneys and bladder. Juice from the leaves can also stimulate vomiting in case something toxic has been consumed.
- Children with bowel problems have been given snake gourd to ease their discomfort, as it acts as a mild laxative
- Snake gourd functions as an expectorant, loosening pus and phlegm in the sinuses and respiratory tracts so that they can be eliminated.
- For people suffering from alopecia, snake gourd is said to stimulate the growth of new hair and protect weakening follicles from hair loss.
- The low-calorie, high-nutrient composition of snake gourd makes it a favorite anti-diabetic food source, and can also lessen the effects if the condition already exists. Obesity is one of the major signals of oncoming diabetes, and snake gourd functions as a great dietary option due to its effect of making you feel sated and satisfied without adding many excess calories.