Has anyone grown bitter melon in the PNW?

plantslayer(8)December 2, 2010

Hello,

My wife thought it might be fun to try and grow bitter melon vines in our small garden. I know the plant likes warm weather and a long growing season, but I was hoping that if I chose the best variety for my climate and coaxed the plant with black mulch, plastic tunnel, etc. I might be able to get a couple of plants to grow for us and produce fruit.

Has anyone grown this vegetable in a climate similar to Western Washington? I know generally how to grow cucurbits- lots of compost, even watering, maximize heat and sunlight- but some crops just cant make it here most years, no matter how much effort you put into them. Last year I couldn't even get my pumpkins to fruit, but I think it was my fault partially for not planting them out early enough. Anyway, If someone has advice on this plant, I'd love to hear it.

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nw_gardener(8 (WA/Kirkland))

I tried for the first time last year. I started the seed in February and transplanted it out at the same time as I my tomatoes (early May).

The vine grew and fruited okay through August but never set fruit. The same vine sets male and female flowers and the flowers open at night. It seemed like there were not enough pollinators to transfer the pollen; I am going to try growing it again this year and attempt pollination myself.

As I did not have any fruit set, I cannot unfortunately tell you if it would have ripened or not in the Western Washington climate. I can tell you that given light and warmth it is a vigorous vine. It probably needs more warmth at night than the climate here can give it; if you can grow it in a (really big) container and grow it in full sun and yet keep in sheltered at night it might do well.

I was growing it in a raised bed and the root system was not super extensive after a full growing season - container growing (5 gallon worth) might work and

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 6:10PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

We had a cold season this year, another year results might have been different.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 8:29PM
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winsorw(8)

Several years ago, I grew some in Kirkland and it was ok. I got some fruits.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 10:08AM
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plantslayer(8)

Yeah, this year I had vigorous pumpkin vines but no set fruit... so I think it was a bad year. But it does sound like it is far from a sure thing. I'll keep that in mind before deciding whether or not to grow this...

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 2:40PM
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