Thursday, November 27, 2008

Snake Gourd

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
germination seen within 10 days after sowing

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
when plant reaches 21 days time, manure is added & support is given for the vines to climb

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.
some varieties in our farm

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


  1. Hi there,

    I have grown snake gourd indoors since the night temp where I live in is below 15C. The plant is about 60 days old and has been putting out flowers but they all appear to be male based on what I have seen online. I trimmed the tip to increase lateral growth and enhance production of female flowers (again based on advise on the net). However, I do not see any female flowers. I am staying in a place with limited or no access to female flower promoters.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance.

  2. well u have me completely stumped. its a high probability that temp plays a major role here. so like i said in my reply to ur query about ridge gourds, its best to keep a 10 watt bulb to attract insects at night. and also the little heat that the bulb provides may be sufficient to encourage female flowers.

    will let u know once i find out more about this

  3. Hello,

    To give you an update : one of the laterals has been putting out female flowers. I was able to hand pollinate one of them : it appears to be successful as the fruit is growing (it is about 4 inches long)

    I do have another query. Attached is the link to a picture of one of the older leaves - am not too sure if this is the result of disease.

    Can you please give me your feedback.

    Many many thanks

  4. thanks AG... good to hear ur hand pollinating technique worked. From what i can see, the leaf has small yellow coloured spots which mostly appear on the upper surface of the leaf.. and this can spread to other parts as well. the best solution is to remove all the infected leaves & burn them. its caused by a fungus.. and the disease is called DOWNY MILDEW. its a very serious fungal disease mostly seen in grapes &other vine crops. the chemical metold of control is spraying mancozeb @2ml per litre of water. if u have organic sprays that are anti fungal in nature i recommend u use that. or in hydroponics... the method we adopt to control fungus is by making milk sprays. dilute 1 glass milk in 1 litre water and spray every 2 days..

  5. Hi there,

    Many thanks for your prompt response.

    I don't have any organic sprays - will neem water help? In the meantime, I will follow your recommendation.

    Thanks again

  6. neem water is good for only insects... however u could try... but dont overdo it... coz some insects are required for pollination.... i know u hand pollinate, but spray neem only if u think it might work... nothing is text book. neem is completely safe n has zero side effects... but it is a deterrent to all insects. so use wisely

  7. Not sure what happened to the leaves overnight - it was perfectly fine yesterday.

    Attached are the pic links.

    Any ideas?


  8. by the looks of it... the black color is something really new to me here... but its mostly a bacterial infection... nothing can be done to it, except that u need to clip off the leaves that seem infected...

    the bacteria is transmitted by tiny flies, n hoppers... so keep ur neem spray ready...
    check again if there are worm droppings on the surface of the leaves, or if some of the leaves are eaten....

  9. Hi,

    Am not too sure what worm droppings look like (is it like caterpillar excreta that you have covered in the ashgourd post?)

    Anyway the leaves are intact (no eggs / larvae, not eaten) except for the loss of colour.

    I have snipped off the infected leaves and will start the neem spray.

    Many thanks

  10. yes its exactly what u have seen in the ash gourd post. but thre are several types, so wanted to know if it was that.

    remember the milk sprays i suggested?> its on my hydroponic blog... yes, also continue the neem sprays... increase the strength if required...


  11. Infact yesterday, I used the milk spray. I will continue with milk spray at am and neem spray at pm.


  12. how to select the right snake gourd for cooking? what should it look like and feel like?

    recently i selected snake gourd,
    some were greenish some very whitish.
    which is the right color?

    some were thin some very fat.

    i selected all the ones that were firm not soft and hallow feeling. like if you pressed it it won't press in, some in the basket were soft like if you press it you can press it in. when you cut into some, there will be whitish seeds. however sometimes the seed will be reddish. when we cooked it, my family didn't like the taste. i don't know what it did wrong. they said i maybe didn't select right.

    1. thanks for stopping by

      the right method is by experience :) i think u must have selected over ripe ones. the ideal ones are soft and full. color is not an index as there are green and white varieties. in our farm we harvest the young fruits which are tender and immediately market them. i guess u were sold over ripe fruits

  13. I use neem water to avoide gourd plant from ants so will it make the gourd bitter like as neem?