the seed beds must contain freshly decomposed organic manure. 2 buckets of manure can be added for every seed bed. the main field should have raised seed beds as water stagnation can destroy the young seedlings.
the figure above shows a typical raised bed. 2 to 3 seeds are sowed in every seed bed.
germination will take place after more than a week. under good field conditions, germination is faster. here germination was recorded 8 days after sowing
after 2 weeks after germination. as there is shortage of sunlight, the plants appear weak, even though the seed beds have all the required plant nutrients.
photo taken after 21 days after germination. when sunlight becomes available, growth and development is rapidly accelerated.
using tree branches as support for the growing ridge gourd plants. ridge gourds are climbers & thus require support for its growth.
thinning out must be done & only 2 seedlings must be retained per every raised bed.
2 or 3 sticks with lateral branches are inserted in every bed as shown. care must be taken to see that the sticks do not damage the plant roots or stem.
then the plants must gently be wrapped around the twigs. in 2 datys time, the tendrils will hold the twigs & grow
field shows support given to the plants.
15 days after giving support, the plant is well established & continues to grow using the provided support.
plant seen climbing upwards, the entire length of the support provided.
one month after providing support. the plant has grown very well & climbed the entire length of the support. the lateral shoots that emerge tend to keep falling away from the supporting material. & so the vines should be monitored everyday.
from another angle. as rainfall subsides, the beds need to be opened up & inter culture operations must be continued.
here we can see, the opening up of the raised beds & now pits have been made. 2 to 3 buckets of fresh decomposed manure is added. it is not required to water the pits as moisture content in the soil due to over night rainfall is sufficient for the plant.
only if prolonged dry spells are seen, watering can be done , alternate days, to retain moisture in the soil. at this stage, using complex NPK is also practiced.
another important index is the color green. when the plant is getting adequate nitrogen, the leaves & entire plant has a lush appearance. here the photo shows the plant has attained a height of more than 8 feet & is now slowly covering the trellis/pendall
harvesting can be seen almost immediate after flowering. since it still rains every now and then, incidence of fruit borer is very common. in some cases, tender fruits are harvested earlier to prevent boring of the fruits from the insect.
another view of the same crop. the on off showers increases the incidence of fungus & insects. using strong organic based insect repellents every week is highly recommended. spraying with chemical insecticides is not done as it does not have much impact during the monsoons. repeated sprays are highly toxic to the plant & also unfit for human consumption.
Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza