Cucurbitaceous Vegetables

Cucurbitaceous Vegetables

Cucurbitaceous Vegetables

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Bitter gourd, snake gourd, pumpkin, ash gourd, cucumber, watermelon, bottle gourd, little gourd and ridge gourd are the important cucurbitaceous vegetables cultivated.

Eating sustainably

The most sustainable way to eat is to be vegan and choose organic, local and seasonal produce. The varieties, season, seedrate and spacing of crops are given in following table.
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Organic farming is a crop production method respecting the rules of the nature, targeted to produce nutritive, healthy and pollution-free food. It maximizes the use of on-farm resources and minimizes the use of off-farm inputs. It is a farming system that seeks to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Commitment to protect and preserve nature is a pre-requisite for practicing organic farming, the entire ecosystem (plant, animal, soil, water and microorganisms) is protected. Organic cultivation improves structure and fertility of the soil through balanced choice of crops and implementation of diversified cropping system. The consumers prefer natural/ethnic foods, particularly organic foods across the world and are ready to pay premium prices for such foods. The demand for organic agriculture products is on the increase day by day.

Popular Vegetables in this category

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  1. Farmers practicing organic farming are encouraged to prepare the organic inputs in their own farm and use only permitted external inputs.
  2. The pests collected by using fruit traps should be disposed of safely without posing any hazards to environment and human beings. Dispose the contents of traps with insecticide outside the cropped area after its use.
  3. According to the scientists of National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII), Bangalore, the most widely used fungal antagonist in India, Trichoderma viride is actually Trichoderma asperellum or its cryptic species T. asperelloides.
  4. The organic liquid formulations are safe to environment, crop production and human health.
  5. The specifications of vermicompost, organic manures and bio-fertilizers are adopted from the “Fertilizer Control Order, 1985” (as amended upto February 2017)

Pits of 60 cm diameter and 30-45 cm depth are taken. Well rotten FYM or other organic manure (12 t ha-1) is mixed with topsoil in the pit and seeds are sown at the rate of 4-5 per pit. Seeds should be treated with Pseudomonas fluorescens @ 2 gram per 1 kg or 5 ml per 1 kg seed. For little gourd, plant stem cuttings with 3-4 nodes from female plants @ 2-3 cuttings per pit. Unhealthy plants are removed after two weeks and only 3 plants are retained per pit.

After cultivation

Plant protection


Fruit fly (Bactrocera sp.) 

In homestead gardens, the fruits may be covered with polythene, cloth or paper bags to ensure mechanical protection. Remove and destroy affected and decayed fruits. It can also be effectively controlled by the use of banana fruit traps coupled with the removal and destruction of infested fruits. Traps are to be set at a distance of 2 meter after a border row and they may be replenished after 7 to 9 days. Start bait trapping just before flowering. Apply Neem cake 250 kg ha-1 (100 gram per pit) at planting and one month later. Use any of the following fruit fly traps:

  1. Fish meal trap: Place 5 g dry fish in coconut shell, moisten and add 0.5 gram cartap hydrochloride. Put coconut shell inside a polythene cover. Make holes on the cover above shell and hang the cover from pandal (trellis).
  2. Trap adult fruit flies using cue lure plywood blocks containing 6:4:1 mixture of ethyl alcohol : cue lure : Malathion. Reset traps at four months interval. Hang plywood blocks with pheromone @ 1 trap per 15 cents (land area).
  3. Trap adult fruit flies using food baits. Make a pulp of 20 gram banana, 10 gram jaggery in 100 ml water + 0.2 ml malathion at 2.5 meter spacing. Change traps after 3 weeks. Red banana, Robusta, Njalipoovan and Palayankodan fruits can be used.
  4. Drench Beauveria bassiana 20 g l-1 @ 10 l and apply 40 ml during fruiting stage.

Note: Dispose the contents of traps with insecticide outside the cropped area after its use.

Epliachna beetle
  1. Remove and destroy egg masses, grubs and adults occurring on leaves.
  2. Use predator (Chrysocaris johnsoni) of larvae and pupae.
  3. Apply Beauveria bassiana @ 10 g l-1.
  4. Spray leaf extract of ailanthus and cashew (10%).
  5. Neem oil + garlic emulsion spray (2%) 

Leaf feeders and sucking pests

Collect and destroy larvae. Spray a mixture of 1 liter cows urine + 10 gram bird chilli + 9 liters water. Spray 2% talk-based formulation of Beauveria bassiana + 0.1 % teepol at fortnightly intervals for the management of pumpkin caterpillar, leaf footed bugs and plant lice.

Plant lice or aphids

Aphids are small sap-sucking insects and members of the superfamily Aphidoidea. Common names include greenfly and blackfly, although individuals within a species can vary widely in colour. The group includes the fluffy white woolly aphids. A typical life cycle involves flightless females giving living birth to female nymphs without the involvement of males. Maturing rapidly, females breed profusely so that the number of these insects multiplies quickly. Winged females may develop later in the season, allowing the insects to colonise new plants. In temperate regions, a phase of sexual reproduction occurs in the autumn, with the insects often overwintering as eggs.

The life cycle of some species involves an alternation between two species of host plants, for example between an annual crop and a woody plant. Some species feed on only one type of plant, while others are generalists, colonising many plant groups. About 5,000 species of aphid have been described, all included in the family Aphididae. Around 400 of these are found on food and fibre crops, and many are serious pests of agriculture and forestry, as well as an annoyance for gardeners. So-called dairying ants have a mutualistic relationship with aphids, tending them for their honeydew, and protecting them from predators.

Aphids are among the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions. In addition to weakening the plant by sucking sap, they act as vectors for plant viruses and disfigure ornamental plants with deposits of honeydew and the subsequent growth of sooty moulds. Because of their ability to rapidly increase in numbers by asexual reproduction, they are a highly successful group of organisms from an ecological standpoint.

Control of aphids is not easy. Insecticides do not always produce reliable results, given resistance to several classes of insecticide and the fact that aphids often feed on the undersides of leaves. On a garden scale, water jets and soap sprays are quite effective. Natural enemies include predatory ladybugs, hoverfly larvae, parasitic wasps, aphid midge larvae, crab spiders, lacewing larvae, and entomopathogenic fungi.

An integrated pest management strategy using biological pest control can work, but is difficult to achieve except in enclosed environments such as glasshouses. Apply 1.5 % fish oil soap. First dissolve soap in hot water and then make up the volume.

Aphids don’t like garlic, chives, onions, lavender and mint. So, if you plant aphid-attracting plants alongside aphid-discouraging plants, it will help you to have less aphid attacks.

Pumpkin caterpillar (Diaphania indica)

Apply Metarhizium anisopliae @ 5 gram l-1. It significantly reduces the damage and increase the yield. 

Methanol seed extracts of Cerebera odollam, Annona glabra and dry leaves extract of Premna serratifolia and Samadera indica (10 %) are effective in controlling Diaphania indica larvae in cucurbits and Epilachna grubs Henosepilachna vigintioctopunctata in bitter gourd.


The nematodes or roundworms are a diverse animal phylum inhabiting a broad range of environments. Depending on the species, a nematode may be beneficial or detrimental to plant health. From agricultural and horticulture perspectives, the two categories of nematodes are the predatory ones, which kill garden pests such as cutworms and corn earworm moths, and the pest nematodes, such as the root-knot nematode, which attack plants, and those that act as vectors spreading plant viruses between crop plants. Predatory nematodes can be bred by soaking a specific recipe of leaves and other detritus in water, in a dark, cool place, and can even be purchased as an organic form of pest control.

Rotations of plants with nematode-resistant species or varieties is one means of managing parasitic nematode infestations. For example, marigolds, grown over one or more seasons (the effect is cumulative), can be used to control nematodes. Another is treatment with natural antagonists such as the fungus Gliocladium roseum. Chitosan, a natural biocontrol, elicits plant defense responses to destroy parasitic cyst nematodes on roots of soybean, corn, sugar beet, potato, and tomato crops without harming beneficial nematodes in the soil. Soil steaming is an efficient method to kill nematodes before planting a crop, but indiscriminately eliminates both harmful and beneficial soil fauna.

Application of Purpureocillium lilacinum (cfu 2 x 106) @ 2.5 kg + Pseudomonas fluorescens (cfu 2 x 106) @ 2.5 kg along with 2.5 tonnes of FYM ha-1 reduces nematode population and increase yield in bitter gourd.

Soil ecosystems: About 90% of nematodes reside in the top 15 cm of soil. Nematodes do not decompose organic matter, but, instead, are parasitic and free-living organisms that feed on living material. Nematodes can effectively regulate bacterial population and community composition — they may eat up to 5,000 bacteria per minute. Also, nematodes can play an important role in the nitrogen cycle by way of nitrogen mineralization.

One group of carnivorous fungi, the nematophagous fungi, are predators of soil nematodes. They set enticements for the nematodes in the form of lassos or adhesive structures.


Downy mildew

Initial symptoms of downy mildew:

  1. Small,faint, light yellow, angular spots. Sometimes dark sporulation is visible on the underside. Leaf veins form the edges of many spots because they create a physical barrier for the pathogen growing in the leaf.
  2. Tiny white spots often with a yellow border and/or dark (necrotic, dead) center visible upon close examination.
  3. Small, orange-yellow, angular spots.

Symptoms of downy mildew are the angular-shaped spots on the top side of the leaves with dark, fuzzy growth of the pathogen on the opposite side of the leaf. Initially the spots are yellow, then they turn dark brown. Spores of the pathogen were observed with all of the angular spots. The white powdery growth is powdery mildew. It is severe during rainy season.

Foliar spraying of Pseudomonas fluorescens 2 % (20 g l-1) thrice at fortnightly interval on the appearance of symptoms will control the disease.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. Powdery mildew is one of the easier plant diseases to identify, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. The lower leaves are the most affected, but the mildew can appear on any above-ground part of the plant. As the disease progresses, the spots get larger and denser as large numbers of asexual spores are formed, and the mildew may spread up and down the length of the plant.

Can be controlled by spraying Trichoderma viride 2 g l-1 or neem oil 2 % as 3 foliar sprays at 14 days interval on symptom appearance.


This virus infects more than 150 types of plants, including many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. It is characterized by leaves mottled with yellow, white, and light and dark green spots or streaks.

  • The leaves are mottled with yellow, white, and light and dark green spots, which appear to be elevated. This gives the leaves a blister-like appearance.
  • Plants are often stunted, or they grow poorly.
  • Plants may have other deformities and their leaves may be crinkled or wavy. 

Mosaic viruses are mostly spread by insects, especially aphids and leafhoppers. You can try covering your plants with a floating row cover or aluminum foil mulches to prevent these insects from infecting your plants.

Control your weeds. Some types may serve as hosts for the disease.

Uprooting and destruction of affected plants and collateral hosts. Spraying Neem based insecticide (2 %) controls the vector.

Leaf blight

Field sanitation and foliar application of Pseudomonas fluorescens @ 20 g l-1.


The fruits should be washed thoroughly in water before cooking.


  • Bactrocera sp. flies
  • Epilachna varivestis
  • Leaf feeders and sucking pests
  • Leaf feeders
  • Plant lice
  • Plant lice
  • Plant lice
  • Diaphania indica
  • Diaphania indica
  • Nematodes
  • Downy mildew
  • Downy mildew

Tips for vegetable seed production

General principles 

The seed production programme envisages to produce genetically pure quality seeds and to store them in a viable condition for a reasonable period of time, until it reaches the farmers. The seeds should have genetic purity, uniformity in size and shape, high germination and vigor. The seeds should be free from mechanical damages, insect and fungal infestation and other crop and weed seeds. A commercial seed production programme has three aspects - seed production, seed processing and seed storage.


Cucurbits (General)

An isolation distance of 800 m for FS and 400 m for CS is required between varieties and related species. Remove off-types, wild cucurbits and plants infected by designated diseases. No objectionable weeds are permitted in the seed production plot. Maximum level of off-types and plants infected by yellow vein mosaic diseases is 0.1 per cent each. Seeds should have a minimum purity of 99% and germination of 60%. Maximum inert matter content permitted is 1%. No seeds of other crops or weeds are permitted and maximum moisture content should not exceed 7%.

Bitter gourd

Taking two vegetable harvests and then leaving the crop for seed production is economical. Ripe fruits of 24 days maturity in Preethi, when the whole fruits turn to bright orange colour, can be harvested for seed extraction. Seeds may be dried in the sun, avoiding peak sunshine hours of 12 noon to 3 p.m. Seeds can be stored in 700 gauge thick polythene bags.

Snake gourd

Fruits can be harvested for seed extraction 36 days after anthesis (in TA 19), when yellowing of fruits start from the stylar end. Big and medium sized fruits (above 85 cm length and 2 kg weight in Kaumudi) give maximum quantity of quality seeds.

Oriental pickling melon
Harvest fully ripe fruits with deep orange colour (30 days after anthesis in Mudicode Local), when the vines wither. Select big and medium sized fruits (above 1.25 kg in Mudicode Local) for quality seeds.

Machine extraction (without fermentation of pulp) and drying under shade for one day and then in sun avoiding peak hours (12 noon to 3.00 pm) to 8 per cent moisture gives good quality seeds.


Ash gourd
Ash gourd fruits of 70 days maturity after anthesis are suitable for seed extraction. At this stage the vines wither and the sticky thick ashy coating on the fruits dries into white powder, which can be removed on rubbing. Fruits of medium and large size (above 5 kg in KAU Local) give bolder, quality seeds. It is advisable to have a post-harvest storage of fruits for three months to get higher germination.
Manual extraction of pulp from the fruits and fermenting the pulp for 48 hours is better to get quality seeds without mechanical damage. 

Acid treatment of pulp using 2 per cent HCI (1:10) for 30 minutes followed by drying under shade to 8 per cent moisture also gives good quality seeds. 

Pre-storage treatment of seeds with captan @ 2.5 g kg-1 and storing in sealed polythene bags of 700 gauge thickness is the best for seed storage. 

Water melon
Manual extraction with acid treatment using 1% HCl (1:10) for 30 minutes and drying under shade for one day and then in sun, avoiding peak hours (12 noon to 3.00 p.m) to 8% moisture gives good quality seeds.