Snake gourd-Inter cultivation

Seeds are sown @ four to five per pit. Remove unhealthy and diseases plants and retain 2-3 healthy plants per pit after 2 weeks.

Mulching is also practiced in bitter gourd to control weeds. Use organic or plastic mulch depending on availability. Mulch can be laid down before or after trans­planting and after sowing.

Apply the recommended second and third dose of fertilizers at the time of vining and at full blooming stage.

The fertilizers have to be applied around the plant after removing the weeds. While applying fertilizers, care should be taken to avoid fertilizer touching the vines. The fertilizer application should be followed with earthing up operations.

Snake gourd grows very fast and vines elongate rapidly within two weeks after planting. Pandals of 1.5 m height are erected using bamboo poles, wooden stakes, GI pipes or other sturdy materials when the plants start vining. Nets of 8 x 8 inch spacing can also used for making pandal.

Snake gourd develops many side branches that are not productive. To improve yield, remove lateral branches until the runner reaches the top of the trellis. Removal of lat­eral branches in the first 10 nodes has a positive effect on total yield.

When the main stem reaches the top of the pandal leave 4-6 laterals and cut the tip of the main runner to induce early cropping.

Where consumers want their snake gourd straight rather than curved, tie a pebble at the end of a long piece of string to the flower end to weigh down the fruit and keep it from curl­ing.

Snake gourd is a cross pollinated crops; insects, especially bees being the main pollinators. Intro­duction of beehives ensures good pollination and avoid the need for hand pollination especially dur­ing overcast conditions.

During the initial stages of growth, irrigate the crop at 3-4 days interval, and on alternate days during flowering/fruiting. During rainy season, drainage is essential for plant survival and growth.