Ampalaya, scientifically named as Momordica charantia, is grown widely throughout the Philippines and is considered to be one of the biggest income generating crops. Of the two local varieties, the green and the white fruited, the green is preferred for both eating and planting.
The vines of this annual herb climb to a length of 3-4 meters, and the plant grows best in hot, humid areas in altitudes up to 500 meters. Bitter gourd is adapted to a wide variation in rainfall and soils; however, it prefers loams well-drained, rich, organic types with adequate water retaining capacity. The plant is cross-pollinated and produces better when trellised. (Source: Agriculture and Fisheries Market Information System- Department of Agriculture, Date accessed 20 March 2014)
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It grows best in low elevation and in full sunlight and can be planted anytime of the year. It thrives in a wide range of soils but grows best in well-drained, sandy loam soil with pH of 5.5-6.5.
Prepare the soil thoroughly by plowing and harrowing for two to three times until soil is already loose. Make planting beds of about 1m to 1.5m. To manage weed growth problems, plastic mulch may be placed on planting beds. Seeds are used as planting material. Bittergourd can be direct seeded or transplanted and needs 2 to 3 kgs of seeds to plant one hectare of land. The seeds can be soaked in water overnight or the seed coat can be carefully cracked to facilitate water absorption. Sow the seeds the next day in seedbeds or plug trays. Transplant the seedlings 7-10 days from germination. Spacing is 2-3 meters between rows and 30cm between hills. For leaf production, the spacing is 1 meter between rows and 0.5 meters between
plants in a row.
Apply 4 bags Dolomite after first plowing or 2 weeks before planting. Apply 2 tons of processed chicken manure or vermicompost in 1 hectare land 2 weeks before planting. Basal application of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) at the rate of 10-15 gm/hill is necessary. It is recommended to sidedress with 10-15 gm/hill of urea (46-0-0) and muriate of potash (0-0-60) once a month (dry season) and sidedress with urea and muriate of potash every two weeks. Spraying of Fermented plant juice can be done once a week from planting to fruiting stage.
Trellising, Vine trimming and Pruning
Bittergourd grows best with A-type trellis and table type with vertical trellis. Bamboo poles with 3m x 3m spacing are usually done. Spacing of 1.5 m between rows and 0.75 cm between hills is employed. Prune the shoots below the 2m mark from the base of the main stem. Removal of some lateral shoots at the upper part and lower shoots can also be done to maintain bigger fruits.
Source: Bureau of Plant Industry- Department of Agriculture, Date accessed 20 March 2014