1.1.2- Family Cucurbitaceae (gourd family) + Overview The Cucurbitaceae, also cucurbits, are a plantfamily, sometimes called the gourd family, consisting of around a hundred genera. The plants in this family are grown around the tropics and in temperate areas, where those with edible fruits were among the earliest cultivated plants both in the Old and New Worlds. The Cucurbitaceae family ranks among the highest of plant families for number and percentage of species used as human food. + Subfamilies Depending on a classification system given by Charles Jeffrey in 1990 the family Cucurbitaceae had two subfamilies: 1- Subfamily Zanonioideae (small striate pollen grains) including 1 tribe, 5 subtribes and 19 genera. 2- Subfamily Cucurbitoideae including 7 tribes, 14 subtribes and 82 genera.
1.1.3-Subfamily Cucurbitoideae + Overview TheCucurbitoideaeare a subfamily of the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd family, offlowering plants. The Cucurbitaceae are divided into two subfamilies, theZanonioideae (synomym = Nhandiroboideae), probably a paraphyleticgroup of remainders, and the well-supportedmonophyleticCucurbitoideae. Members of theCucurbiteaetribe produce economically valuablefruits, calledgourds, which includecropslikecucumbers,squashes (includingpumpkins),luffas, and melons (includingwatermelons).The Benincaseae tribe contains a genus calledLagenariawhose members produce gourds that can be eaten or whose shells can be dried and used as containers. + Tribes of the Subfamily Cucurbitoideae SubfamilyCucurbitoideae include 7 tribes, 14 subtribes and 82 genera. * Tribe Melothrieae + Subtribe Dendrosicyinae: consisting of 16 genera + Subtribe Guraniinae: consisting of 3 genera + Subtribe Cucumerinae: consisting of 6 genera + Subtribe Trochomeriinae: consisting of 4 genera * Tribe Schizopeponeae: consisting of 1 genus * Tribe Joliffieae + Subtribe Thladianthinae: consisting of 4 genera + Subtribe Telfairiinae: consisting of 1 genus * Tribe Trichosantheae + Subtribe Hodgsoniinae: consisting of 1 genus + Subtribe Ampelosicyinae: consisting of 2 genera + Subtribe Trichosanthinae: consisting of 3 genera + Subtribe Herpetosperminae: consisting of 4 genera * Tribe Benincaseae + Subtribe Benincasinae: consisting of 17 genera + Subtribe Luffinae: consisting of 1 genus * Tribe Cucurbiteae (pantoporate, spiny pollen): consisting of 13 genera * Tribe Sicyeae (trichomatous nectary, 4- to 10-colporate pollen grains) + Subtribe Cyclantherinae: consisting of 13 genera + Subtribe Sicyinae: consisting of 7 genera.
1.1.4- Tribe Joliffieae + Overview Tribe Joliffieae is in the subfamily Cucurbitoideae of the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. + Subtribes and Genera Tribe Joliffieae has 2 subtribes: 1- Subtribe Thladianthinae: consisting of 4 genera Genera: Indofevillea, Momordica, Siraitia, Thladiantha, 2- Subtribe Telfairiinae: consisting of 1 genus Genus: Telfairia.
1.1.5- Genus Momordica + Overview Momordicais a genus of about 60 species of annual or perennial climbersherbaceousor rarely small shrubs belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae, natives of tropical and subtropicalAfricaandAsiaandAustralia. Most species produce floral oils and are visited by specialist pollinators in theapidtribe Ctenoplectrini. A molecular phylogeny that includes all species is available (Schaefer and Renner, 2010). SomeMomordicaspecies are grown in cultivation for their fleshyfruit, which are oblong to cylindrical in shape, orange to red in colour, prickly or warted externally, and inMomordica charantiaburst when ripe, generally with elastic force, into irregular valves. Momordica charantia(bitter melon, Chinese: “ku gua”) is native to Africa but has been used in Chinese folk medicinefor centuries as a 'bitter, cold' herb, and has recently been brought into mainstream Chinese medicine as well as natural medical traditions around the world. Recent research has shown that the immature fruit might have some antibiotic, anticancer, and antiviral properties, particularly well suited for use in treatment of malaria, HIV, and diabetic conditions.The use ofMomordica fruit is contraindicated in a number of conditions, especially pregnancy. + Species Genus Momordica has of about 60 species. The most important species include: 1- Momordica balsaminaL. - Balsam apple 2- Momordica charantiaL.-Bitter melon 3- Momordica cochinchinensis(Lour.) Spreng.-Gac 4- Momordica cymbalariaHook.f. 5- Momordica dioicaRoxb. ex Willd. 6- Momordica enneaphyllaCogn. 7- Momordica foetida Schumach.
1.1.6- Species Momordica charantia - Bitter melon + Overview Momordica charantia,known asbitter melon, bitter gourd,bitter squashorbalsam-pear inEnglish, has manyother local names.Goya fromOkinawanandkarelafromSanskritare also used by English-language speakers. It is atropicalandsubtropicalvineof the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown inAsia,Africa, and theCaribbeanfor its ediblefruit, which is extremely bitter. Its many varieties differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit. Bitter melon originated on the Indian subcontinent, and was introduced into China in the 14th century. Bitter melon is generally consumed cooked in the green or early yellowing stage. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter melon may also be eaten as greens. Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically instir-fries(often with pork anddouchi), soups, dim sum, andherbal teas(SeeGohyah tea). It has also been used in place ofhops as the bittering ingredient in someChinese and Okinawanbeers. + Varieties Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The cultivar common to China is 20-30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. It is green to white in color. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. Some bear miniature fruit of only 6-10 cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruit are popular in Bangladesh, India (common name 'Karela'), Pakistan, Nepal and other countries in South Asia. The sub-continent variety is most popular in Bangladesh and India.
2- Characteristics of the Bitter melon
2.1- Description + Plants Bitter melon is a temperate/tropical vegetable probably originated in South-East Asia. Bitter Gourd is a herbaceous,tendril-bearing vine, growing up to 5 m. Like in other members of the Cucurbitaceae family, it too is a fast-growing, trailing or climbing vine with thin stems and tendrils which require trellis to support their climbing vines. + Leaves It bears simple,alternateleaves 4-12 cm across, with three to seven deeply separated lobes. + Flowers Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers, about 2-3 cm in diameter. Male flowers, more numerous, have a yellow center and conical base, while female flowers have a green center and small bump at the base. In the Northern Hemisphere, flowering occurs during June to July and fruiting during September to November. + Fruits The fruit has a distinct warty exterior and an oblong shape. The fruit is most often eaten green, or as it is beginning to turn yellow. At this stage, the fruit's flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar tocucumber,chayoteor greenbell pepper, but bitter. The skin is tender and edible. As the fruit ripens, the flesh (rind) becomes somewhat tougher and more bitter, and many consider it too distasteful to eat. On the other hand, the pith becomes sweet and intensely red; it can be eaten uncooked in this state, and is a popular ingredient in some Southeast Asiansalads. When the fruit is fully ripe, it turns orange and mushy, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp. + Seeds Bitter melon fruit is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large, flat seeds and pith. Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits; they are not intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking.
2.2- Origin and Distribution + Origin Bitter melon originated on the Indian subcontinent, and was introduced into China in the 14th century. + Distribution Bitter melon is a tropical and subtropicalvine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit, which is extremely bitter. Its many varieties differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit.
2.4- The Uses of Bitter melon + Food Uses Bitter melon is generally consumed cooked in the green or early yellowing stage. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter melon may also be eaten as greens. - In China: Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically instir-fries(often with pork anddouchi), soups, dim sum, andherbal teas(SeeGohyah tea). It has also been used in place ofhops as the bittering ingredient in someChinese and Okinawanbeers. - In India: It is very popular throughout India. InNorth Indian cuisine, it is often served withyogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, used in sabzior stuffed with spices and then cooked in oil. In Southern India, it is used in the dishesthoran/thuvaran(mixed with gratedcoconut),mezhukkupuratti(stir fried with spices),theeyal(cooked with roasted coconut) andpachadi(which is considered a medicinal food fordiabetics). Other popular recipes include preparations with curry, deep fried withpeanutsor other ground nuts, andPachi Pulusu, a soup with fried onions and other spices. In Tamil Nadu, a special preparation calledpagarkai pitla, a kind of sourkoottu, variety is very popular. Also popular iskattu pagarkkai, a curry that involves stuffing with onions, cooked lentil and grated coconut mix, tied with thread and fried in oil. In Konkan region of Maharashtra, salt is added to finely chopped bitter gourd and then it is squeezed, removing its bitter juice to some extent. After frying this with different spices, less bitter and crispy preparation is served with grated coconut. - In Nepal (and northern India): Bitter melon is prepared as a fresh pickle calledachar. For this, the vegetable is cut into cubes or slices and sautéed covered in oil and a sprinkle of water. When it is softened and reduced, it is minced in amortarwith a few cloves of garlic, salt and a red or green pepper. It is alsosautéedto golden-brown, stuffed, or as a curry on its own or with potatoes. - In Sri Lanka: Bitter melon is known as Karawila or karavila, and is an ingredient in many different curry dishes (Eg: Karawila Curry, and Karawila Sambol) which are served mainly with rice in a main meal. Sometimes large grated coconut pieces are added, which is more common in rural areas. Karawila juice is also sometimes served there. - In Pakistan and Bangladesh: Bitter melon is often cooked with onions, redchili powder, turmericpowder, salt,corianderpowder, and a pinch ofcuminseeds. Another dish in Pakistan calls for whole, unpeeled bitter melon to be boiled and then stuffed with cooked minced beef, served with either hottandooribread,naan,chappati, or withkhichri(a mixture oflentilsand rice). - In Japan: Bitter melon is a significant ingredient inOkinawan cuisine, and is increasingly used in mainlandJapan. It is popularly credited with Okinawan life expectancies being higher than the already long Japanese ones. - In Indonesia: Bitter melon is prepared in various dishes, such asgado-gado, and also stir fried, cooked in coconut milk, or steamed. - In the Philippines: Bitter melon may be stir-fried with ground beef andoyster sauce, or with eggs and dicedtomato. The dishpinakbet, popular in theIlocosregion ofLuzon, consists mainly of bitter melons,eggplant,okra,string beans, tomatoes,lima beans, and other various regional vegetables altogether stewed with a littlebagoong-based stock. - In Vietnam: Raw bitter melon slices consumed withdried meatfloss and bitter melon soup withshrimpare popular dishes. Bitter melons stuffed with ground pork are served as a popular summer soup in the south. It is also used as the main ingredient of "stewed bitter melon". This dish is usually cooked for theTếtholiday, where its "bitter" name is taken as a reminder of the poor living conditions experienced in the past. - In Trinidad and Tobago (part ofSouth America): Bitter melons are usually sautéed with onion, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper until almost crisp.
+ Medical Uses of Bitter Melon Medical Uses of Bitter Melonincludes treatment of diabetes, cancer, coughs, skin burns and scalds...(more) -Traditional medicinal uses Bitter melon has been used in various Asian andAfricanherbal medicinesystems for a long time.Intraditional medicine many different parts of the plant are used to relievediabetes, as astomachic,laxative, antibilious,emetic, anthelminticagent, for the treatment ofcough, respiratory diseases, skin diseases, wounds,ulcer,gout, andrheumatism. Folkloric tradictional medicinal uses from Bitter Melon include: 1- Used in Health benefits of juice extract from bitter melon fruit. Used to treat diabetes. Used to treat stomach problems such as colitis, dysentery and intestinal parasites. Used to treat spleen and liver problems. Used to treat mild cough, heal wounds, and to treat rheumatism and gout. 2- Used in Health benefits from bitter melon leaves. Powered leaves used as astringent to treat haemorrhoids and piles. Sap or juice of leaves used to treat skin problems such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, leprosy and scabies. Pounded leaves used to treat for burns and scald. Infusion of leaves used to treat fever. Infusion used to treat various stomach problems and to improve appetite. Poultice of leaves used to treat headache. Infusion of leaves used as mouthwash to treat tooth ache and other mouth problems. 3- Used in Health benefits from bitter melon seeds, roots and flowers. Decoction of seeds and roots used to treat urethral discharge. Roots are used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac preparations. Decoction of roots used to abort pregnancy. Infusion from bitter melon flower is used to treat asthma. - Modern medicinal uses * Some Researches For Health Benefits Of Bitter Melon 1- Bitter Melon Health Benefits for Diabetes Clinical Studies for bitter melon demonstrated hypoglycemic properties (blood sugar lowering) or other actions of potential benefit against diabetes mellitus. The hypoglycemic chemicals found in bitter Melon include a mixture of steroidal saponins known as charantins, insulin-like peptides, and alkaloids. The anti-diabetic effect is more pronounced in the fruit of bitter melon where these chemicals are in greater abundance. The bitte melon fruit has also shown the ability to enhance cells’ uptake of glucose, to promote insulin release, and potentiate the effect of insulin. In other in vivo studies, bitter melon fruit and/or seed has been shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides in both the presence and absence of dietary cholesterol. In one study, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats were returned to normal after 10 weeks of treatment.(Source: Journal of Chemistry and Biology, March 2008) 2- Anti-obesity and Antidiabetic Health Benefits of Bitter Melon Juice A study done in The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii to investigate the effects of bitter melon juice on lipid accumulation and adipocyte differentiation transcription factors in primary human differentiating preadipocytes and adipocytes. has shown that preadipocytes treated with varying concentrations of bitter melon juice during differentiation demonstrated significant reduction in lipid content with a concomitant reduction in mRNA expression of adipocyte transcription factors. Similarly, adipocytes treated with bitter melon juice for 48 hours demonstrated reduced lipid content, perilipin mRNA expression, and increased lipolysis as measured by the release of glycerol. This study suggests that bitter melon juice is a potent inhibitor of lipogenesis and stimulator of lipolysis activity in human adipocytes. Bitter melon juice may therefore prove to be an effective complementary or alternative therapy to reduce adipogenesis in humans. (Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:34) 3- Bitter Melon Health Benefits for Colon Cancer A study done in University of Kansas Medical Center had determined the efficacy of methanolic extracts of bitter melon on colon cancer stem and progenitor cells. Results have shown that the methanolic bitter melon extracts showed significant inhibition of cell proliferation and colony formation. In addition, the cells were arrested at the S phase of cell cycle. Moreover, bitter melon extract induced the cleavage of LC3B but not caspase 3/7, suggesting that the cells were undergoing autophagy and not apoptosis. Bitter melon extract reduced cellular ATP levels coupled with activation of AMP activated protein kinase; on the other hand, exogenous additions of ATP lead to revival of cell proliferation. Finally, BMW treatment results in a dose-dependent reduction in the number and size of colonospheres. The extracts also decreased the expression of DCLK1 and Lgr5, markers of quiescent, and activated stem cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the extracts of bitter melon can be an effective preventive/therapeutic agent for colon cancer. (Source: Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal. 2013) 4- Anti-cancer Health Benefits of Bitter Melon Methanol Extract A study done in Tzu Chi University in Taiwan explored the potential effectiveness of Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon) against human cancer cell lines. Methanol extract of bitter melon was used to evaluate the cytotoxic activity on four human cancer cell lines, Hone-1 nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells, AGS gastric adenocarcinoma cells, HCT-116 colorectal carcinoma cells, and CL1-0 lung adenocarcinoma cells. The methanol extract of bitter melon showed cytotoxic activity towards all cancer cells tested, with the approximate IC(50) ranging from 0.25 to 0.35mg/mL at 24 h. Methanol extract of bitter melon induced cell death was found to be time-dependent in these cells. The apoptogenic protein, Bax, was increased, whereas Bcl-2 was decreased after treating for 24h in all cancer cells, indicating the involvement of mitochondrial pathway in methanol extract of bitter melon -induced cell death. These findings indicate that methanol extract of bitter melon has cytotoxic effects on human cancer cells and exhibits promising anti-cancer activity by triggering apoptosis through the regulation of caspases and mitochondria. (Source: Evidence Based Complementart Alternative Medicine. 2012). * Side Effects Of Bitter Melon And Warnings Bitter melon as the name implies has bitter taste. Bitter melon being a natural fruit and a vegetable is considered safe at moderate consumption as food. Bitter Melon Side Effects Bitter melon extract or juice, when taken at large dosage may cause abortion of pregnancy. Bitter melon extract when taken at large dosage may lower blood sugar level. Consult your doctor when you are taking other antidiabetes medications. Source: Medical Uses of Bitter melon http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/herb/bittermelon.htm.
2.5- Health benefits of Bitter melon or Bitter gourd + General Bitter melon is very low in calories, carrying just 17 calories per 100 g. Nevertheless, its pods are rich sources of phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. Bitter melon notably contains phyto-nutrient,polypeptide-P, aplant insulinknown to lower blood sugar levels. In addition, it composes hypoglycemic agent calledcharantin.Charantinincreases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis inside the cells of liver, muscle and adipose tissue. Together, these compounds may have been thought to be responsible for blood sugar levels reduction in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. Fresh pods are an excellent source offolates, carrying about 72 µg/100g (18% of RDA). Vitamin folate when taken by mothers during their early pregnancy time, would help reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the newborn babies. Fresh bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin-C (100 g of raw pod provides 84 mg or about 140% of RDI). Vitamin-C is one of the powerful natural antioxidants which helps scavenge deleterious free radicals from the human body. Further, it is an excellent source of health benefiting flavonoids such as ß-carotene, a-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. It also contains a good amount of vitamin-A. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging, cancers and various disease processes. Bitter melon stimulates easy digestion and peristalsis of food through the bowel until it is excreted from the body. Thus, it helps in relieving indigestion and constipation problems. In addition, it is a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium. Early laboratory tests suggest that certain phyto-chemical compounds in bitter melon might be effective in the treatment of HIV infection. Source: Bitter-gourd http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/bitter-gourd.html.
+ 10 Benefits of Bitter Melon That Makes It Even More Worth Eating Bitter melon, or Goya, is commonly used for beneficial health reasons. Bitter melon is also referred to as bitter gourd, Karela, or Balsam Pear. The melon has an extremely bitter taste, but it is a helpful food. Bitter melon is commonly added to stir-fry, or may be enjoyed stuffed. It may also be added to the diet as a supplement. In order to receive the full health benefits, find and cook the melon regularly. Here’s some sweet information you need to know about this bitter vegetable: 1- Type II Diabetes Some studies have shown that bitter melon lowers blood sugar through increased metabolism of glucose. Drink one cup daily. Try this recipe to receive the full benefit of the fruit. As with any changes to your diet, be sure you consult you physician. Stop use if you’re experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea, or fever. Monitor blood sugar regularly and adjust medications as necessary, with the assistance of your doctor. 2- Kidney Stones A kidney stone is an extremely painful medical condition. Bitter melon can be helpful in ridding the body of kidney stones through naturally breaking them down. Bitter melon reduces high acid that help produce painful kidney stones. Infuse bitter melon powder with water to create a healthful tea. This tea has a nutty flavor and, surprisingly, does not require sweetening. 3- Lower Cholesterol Help lower dangerous cholesterol levels with bitter melon. Reducing cholesterol significantly reduces heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. The added benefit is that bitter melon is completely natural in working with the body to prevent these health risks. High cholesterol can only be diagnosed with a blood test. Try Bitter Melon Delight to reap the reward of this surprising health benefit. 4- Pancreatic Cancer One of the most surprising health benefits of bitter melon is its anti-cancer properties. Bitter melon has been shown to disrupt the production of glucose, potentially inhibiting the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Try these bitter melon juice recipes for a touch of variety and to reap the full health reward of this unusual melon. Bitter melon may also starve other cancerous cells in the liver, colon, breast, or prostate. 5- Skin Benefits Foods or drink taken from this melon benefit the skin. Taken regularly, bitter melon is said to have a “glowing” effect on the skin and is helpful in treating acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Experience natural and soothing relief with bitter melon. Try bitter melon soup for relief of any of these skin conditions or for more beautiful skin. An added benefit is that bitter melon is a blood-purifying agent. 6- Weight Loss As is common with most plants, bitter melon is extremely low in calories and very filling. Lose, or maintain a healthy weight, with bitter melon. Prepare stuffed bitter melon to enjoy this benefit.The same properties that aid against Type II Diabetes also assist in health weigh loss and maintenance. The melon is very high in nutrients, which is another reason it’s so beneficial in weight loss. 7- Liver Tonic There are several benefits of regularly consuming a liver tonic. A tonic aids in digestion, improves gallbladder function, and lowers fluid retention. Cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, and constipation may be relieved with a bitter melon liver tonic. Drink a bitter melon juice at least once a day to enjoy the benefits. A liver tonic is also aids in weight loss, and may relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel system. 8- Carbohydrate Digestion This is a very important benefit for those who have Type II Diabetes. Carbohydrates turn to sugar, and bitter melon metabolizes the sugars. Faster metabolism of carbohydrates means that less fat is stored in the body which leads to weight loss, and healthy weight maintenance. Proper carbohydrate digestion also aids in muscle growth and development. A Bitter Melon Stir-Fry is just the ticket for the many benefits of bitter melon. 9- Vitamin-K Source Vitamin-K contributes to bone health, blood-clotting, and is an anti-inflammatory. Those suffering from arthritis can experience lower pain and inflammation in the joints through increasing Vitamin-K. No-Fry Karela Crispies are a delicious way to add Vitamin-K to your diet. The addition of bitter melon satisfies your body’s daily nutritional need for Vitamin-K. Also, the addition of bitter melon is a great source for dietary fiber. 10- Increased Immunity A healthy immune system is vital for fending off potential infections and diseases. Add this delicious and easily prepared Bitter Melon Stir-Fryfor this added health benefit. Stop or prevent a cold instantly in its tracks while benefiting the digestive system. Prevent or curb food allergies, and get rid of yeast infections, naturally. An added bonus of bitter melon is relief of acid reflux and indigestion. Source: 10 surprising benefits tequila you never knew http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-surprising-benefits-tequila-you-never-knew.html.
3.2- Growing Bitter Melon A- Soil, Planting, and Care Like other members of the squash family, bitter melon produces vines that grow 4-5 m (13,12 to 16,4 feet) long. Plant bitter melon where it receives at least 6 hours of sunshine. In Southern regions, it’s okay to site seedlings in a spot with light shade, as long as vines can ramble into full-sun areas. Soil should be fertile, but well-drained, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.7. Adding composted manure or compost to enrich soil results in good yields. This plant thrives in heat and humidity, and as summer temperatures rise, vines grow quickly. Fruits have a tendency to rot on moist soil, so it’s best to trellis vines. You can do this on a fence or evenly spaced supports. Not only does trellising reduce disease outbreaks on fruit, it also makes harvesting easier. When planting along a fence, space seedlings 2.7-3 m (9 to 10 feet) apart. Trellised vines produce hanging fruit, which grows long and straight. If you don’t trellis vines, be sure to mulch soil beneath vines. Use loose mulch, like straw, which helps keep soil moist but won’t promote fruit rot. For trellised vines, as stems reach the top of the support, remove the growing tip along with a few lower lateral branches. This pruning causes vines to branch near the growing tip. These upper branches will yield strongly. If you’re not trellising vines, prune vines when the first female flowers appear. Keep soil consistently moist. Like other squash or melons, bitter melon fruits develop best when soil moisture remains even. If you worked compost into soil before planting, you can still add a slow-release vegetable fertilizer, like 14-14-14, at planting time. As plants grow, fertilize plants midway through the growing season, or use a liquid fertilizer, applying more frequently (according to label directions).
B- Troubleshooting Flowers typically start appearing on vines within a few weeks of planting. Like all cucurbits, bitter melon vines produce male and female flowers. Female blooms have a swelling at the base resembling a tiny melon. Male flowers open first, followed in a week or so by female blossoms. Bees visit both blooms, transferring pollen from male to female flowers. Usually male blooms live only one day, opening in the morning and falling from plants by dusk. Don’t be alarmed if you spy fallen flowers beneath vines. Fruits are susceptible to various rots. Trellising can reduce rot issues. For non-trellised vines, use a straw mulch to keep melons from resting directly on moist soil. Fruit flies can attack ripening fruits. If flies become a problem, wrap ripening melons in newspaper. Many of the diseases and insect pests that attacksquashandcantaloupealso affect bitter melon plants. Vines are susceptible to powdery and downy mildew and are a host of watermelon mosaic virus. Treat vines infected with fungal diseases like mildew with fungicides. Check with a local garden center or Extension agent to discover which fungicides are available in your state. Plants don’t recover from the virus. Watch for spotted and striped cucumber beetles, which can attack vines. These beetles carry bacterial wilt disease, which causes vines to collapse. Infected vines don’t recover. Treat adult beetles with rotenone or a pyrethrum-based insecticide; apply at dusk to avoid harming honey bees.
C- Harvest and Storage Bitter melon doesn’t give many clues regarding the right time to harvest. Most gardeners pick fruits when they’re green or have a few hints of yellow. Fruits that have turned completely yellow are over-ripe and will have spongy flesh. Many professional bitter melon growers time harvest based solely on fruit size. Young and tender fruits are roughly 4 to 6 inches long. Bitterness varies with maturity and individual fruit. Immature melons are usually more bitter. Just as individual chili peppers from the same plant can offer different degrees of heat, so different bitter melons from the same vine can contain differing degrees of bitterness. For newcomers to bitter melon, slightly overly mature fruits may prove more palatable, since the bitterness will be somewhat lessened. Once melons start to ripen, pick fruits regularly, approximately every two to three days. The more you pick, the more fruits will form. Store melons in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use within 3 to 5 days of harvest.
D- Uses To prepare bitter melon, slice the fruit open and remove seeds and pith. Do not peel. Beginners to bitter melon may parboil the fruit to lessen bitterness, although aficionados say this changes the texture too much. Typically bitter melon is stuffed, pickled, or curried and served with meat or in soup. The fruit pairs well with other strong flavors, like garlic, Chinese black beans, chili peppers, or coconut milk. Frequently, bitter melon is stuffed with pork or shrimp and steamed. Bitter melon enables glucose uptake and is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat Type 2 diabetes. If you suffer from hypoglycemia, use caution consuming bitter melon. The combination of the melon plus the drugs typically used to treat hypoglycemia can decrease blood sugar levels to dangerously low levels. Source: Growing bitter melon http://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-bitter-melon.