Does anyone here have any experience with this? Any special instruction on transplanting bitter melon? Are the roots sensitive?
Also would be interested in hearing any tips from people on how best to grow bitter melons in general.
I grew them once, quite a few years back (probably late 1990's), just to see them grow. I wasn't EVER brave enough to try cooking and eating one, though. They were incredibly easy to grow, and yielded a bunch of fruits, some of which, towards the fall, exploded with the best reddish-orange goo coming out of them. I think the kind I grew was the "balsam pear" type.
In Toronto area, I would just plant them indoors about 4 weeks ahead of time, under a grow-light, and then transplant outdoors after danger of frost. Just start them like you would other cucurbits, 2 to 3 seeds in a four inch pot, thinning to the best two. Moderate root disturbance is ok when transplanting, but try not to damage them if possible.
You can grow them on the ground, but they're a lot happier with some type of trellis or support.
If I ever try growing them again, I might actually get brave and try eating them. Just can't get over the "bitter" part -- when my eggplant get bitter, I throw them out.
Canuckistani, I grow bitter melon each year from transplants. Since I am in northeast Wisconsin, my climate may not be too different from yours.
There are quite a few good threads about bitter melon on this forum, I think I answer most of your questions about transplants on this one.
The seeds need warmth to germinate; but once they do, they need strong light as well. Under fluorescent lights, they will quickly become leggy & fall over. Since I don't use high-intensity lighting, that means that the seedlings must be moved into the sunlight immediately following germination. For me, they move into a solar greenhouse, which must be warm enough to remain above 50 degrees F. (sometimes with a little help at night from an electric heater). My planting date for hot-weather crops is about June 1st, I start the seeds about 3 weeks before that.
You may sow the seeds out side in your garden in last week of May.They will germinate latest by end of second week of June.This will give enough time for the vines to bear the fruits.
You may germinate the seeds indoor as Zeedman has suggested.
Plant the seeds at four feet apart.I sow two seeds in every pit at about inch or inch and half deep in the soil.
Pic. of a Bitter melon vine.
I love bitter melon. Germinate the seeds using bottom heat for the best results. Wait until all danger of frost is past before transplanting. I have grown many varieties of bitter melon for about 5 years and have not had any problems with transplanting. The only problem I've had is getting bad seed from Baker Creek one year. Do grow on a trellis. Good luck!
I have been growing bitter melons for several years. I grow them in about 5 pits every year. Transplanting them is not a problem - make sure to scoop up the plant with a lot of soil attached to their roots. I also transplant them from on pit to the other for uniform number of plants in all the pits.
Here is a link which may be useful.
Picture from the above site:
Here is a link that might be useful: http://yourhomegardenblog.com/vegetable-gardening/how-to-grow-exotic-and-delicious-bitter-melons-on-your-backyard
The leaves of bitter melon can be dipped in chick pea flower batter(available in India grocery stores as "Basin")and deep fried.They make very good snacks.