Thursday, August 14, 2008
Ridge gourd vegetable farming
Ridge gourd (Luffa acutangula) also known as ribbed gourd is a viny vegetable. It requires a trellis or support for its growth and development. It belongs to the cucurbit family & is an important commercial crop fetching good yields and returns
LAND PREPARATION & SOIL
Summer ridge gourds are grown in square pits roughly 50 cm in width & around 20 cm in depth. The soil in the pits have to be repeatedly ploughed till a fine tilth is obtained. 10 to 15 kg organic manure is added to each pit.
Furrows are made in the pits & 4 seeds are sown in each pit. Later after germination, only 2 seeds are retained per pit. This is done to avoid overcrowding.
GERMINATION, CLIMATE AND IRRIGATION
Usually in the summer, germination takes place within 4 days from the date of sowing when conditions are favorable. The young seedlings are highly susceptible to attacks from red pumpkin beetle. To avoid this, imidochloprid @ 0.5 ml per litre is very effective.
Within 2 weeks of germination, climbing support must be provided & the plant starts developing tendrils for this purpose. The tendrils help the plant to grasp the provided support & start climbing. The support in the form of long sticks, plant branches etc must have a height of 6 feet. Even thread of strong thickness can be used & a network between the pits can be created to support the climbing habit of the vine.
germinating seedling 4 days after sowing
It can also be trained on a trellis or pergola. It must be noted that, more support given to the vine, more it will keep growing.
When temperatures are extremely high, more male flowers are formed & this will reduce the yields. Similarly, when temperatures are cold, quality & quantity of yield is also affected.
Light irrigation is followed after the seeds are sowed. After germination irrigation every alternate days is useful. Care must be taken to see that water does not stagnate in the pits , as it will result in fungal infections & the young seedling will start rotting. For this well drained soils are best suited. Even repeated ploughings will increase the drainage & porosity of the soils.
INTER CULTURE OPERATIONS, FERTILIZER AND PEST MANAGEMENT
Since the plants are grown in pits, not much inter culture operations are required. Weeding must be done during the initial stages or it will compete with the main crop for nutrients. The growing vines must be made to climb the support at all times. Sometimes due to overcrowding, the vines tend to fall
one month after germination, the plants need support for the vines to grow
down on the ground, and this must be checked. At all times, the vines must be made to climb the support. Even tying the vines together , which helps keeping them from falling to the ground is also seen.
The growing vines require a lot of nutrients. Addition of complex NPK fertilizers can be done 30 days after first day of sowing. At this stage when vegetative growth is accelerating, 10 kg of fresh organic manure can be added to each pit with 50 to 100 grams of NPK.
when 40 days old, intercropped with amaranth
Since the vines produce more male flowers, spraying plant hormones can be done at the initial stages of flowering to induce female flowering @ 1 ml per litre.
Red pumpkin beetle is a serious pest during the initial stages when the plant is young with tender succulent leaves. Spraying dimethoate @ 2 ml per litre, or imidochloprid @ 0.5 ml per litre can be very effective.
when flowering starts, inter cropped amaranth can be harvested
When the fruits start to form, another serious pest problem is the attack of Daucus dorsalis & daucus cucurbitae flies. They bore right into the young forming fruits, laying their eggs, which hatch and the larvae feed on the insides of the fruit which will result in rotting of the fruit, making it unfit for consumption.
Spraying the crop is not advised as pesticides will have toxic residue on other growing fruits. The most suitable remedy is the usage of pheromone traps & lures which is very effective in controlling dorsalis & cucurbitae flies.
PLEASE SEE Tfruiting appears after 60 days
ridge gourds ready for harvest
REFER THE OTHER POST FOR USING PHEROMONE TRAPS & LURES IN GOURDS
Another pest is the gregarious Lepidoglossus sps, which uses its needle like proboscis to puncture wounds in the ridge gourd, sucking its juicy nutrients and making the fruit hollow. Since the incidence of this pest is only seasonal, and temporary, it is best advised to manually catch the insect as it is quite large & cannot escape properly due to its heavy weight. The other option is the use of neem extract sprays which act as insect repellents. But pollination may also be affected so since neem based sprays are totally organic, the forming fruits could be sprayed , leaving the leaves and flowers.
from another angle
The fruits start to form after 60 days from the first day of sowing. Since the fruits are long, care must be taken to ensure the fruit is hanging in a downward direction. When the vines grow long & thick, the developing fruits get entangled in the vines, resulting in fruits getting undesired shape, thus making marketability difficult.
excellent yielding in summer
the disfigured ridge gourd due to entangling with the vines
In summer, the crop will continuously yield for more than 2 months.
Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza