Part of Ideal Farming Simplified Section 1

Vegetable Crops Icon

January 31, 2022

Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals.

People can be healthy without eating rice or bread, but they cannot remain healthy if they go without vegetables.

In the emergency food programme the 4 items are:

  1. Vegetables
  2. Potatoes
  3. Pulses
  4. Animal fodder for milk producing animals.

Potatoes contain carbohydrate, and in an emergency can be eaten as a substitute for cereals.

Vegetables have a variety of uses. They can be eaten raw, cooked, dried, pickled, etc. Vegetables such as sweet potato or sugar beet can be used for producing sugar.

Others such as lady’s finger can be used for producing clothing fibre; and still others such as radish, lady’s finger, etc. can be used for producing oil.

Creeping Vegetables

The best organic fertilizer for creeping vegetables is animal compost, and the cheapest animal compost is cow dung. It should be dried and used after it is 3 months old, otherwise insects will breed in it.

Fish meal is a good fertilizer for growing gourd.

Creeping vegetables include:

  • bottle gourd (láu). The varieties include;
  • ghat́i láu
  • round bottle gourd (gol láu)
  • club bottle gourd (gadá láu)
  • long bottle gourd (lambá láu)
  • pumpkin (kumŕá)
  • cucumber (shashá)
  • bitter gourd (karela)
  • wax gourd (pat́ol)
    • peŕa pat́ol
    • indigenous wax gourd (deshi pat́ol)
    • d́holak pat́ol
    • whitish gourd (pashchimá pat́ol)
  • greenish gourd

Junior creepers like cucumber, bitter gourd, small bitter gourd (ucchey), etc. bear fruit within 25 days, while senior creepers like lal kumŕá and sachi kumŕá (two varieties of pumpkin) bear fruit within 40 days. Pumpkin, cucumber and watermelon seeds may be used as an alternative to nuts.

Cucumber and watermelon seeds have little value as oil seeds. The white portion inside the skin of the watermelon may be used as a substitute for flour or maize, but it too has very little food value.

Bottle Gourd (Láu)

Bottle gourd is an all-season creeping vegetable.

The varieties include:

  • ghat́i láu
  • round bottle gourd (gol láu)
  • club bottle gourd (gadá láu)
  • long bottle gourd (lambá láu)

Intermittent plants such as wax gourd should be grown between two bottle gourd plants.

Wax Gourd

The wax gourd cuttings should be planted in Aśádha, Shravańa, Bhadra and Áshvina, but some special varieties should be planted from Aśádha to Mágha.

Wax gourd is an all-season creeping vegetable. Bottle gourd must be grown with a platform from Ashvin to Mágha. Creeping vegetables planted in Aśádha usually give fruit by the 15th of Shrávańa, those planted in Bhadra give fruit from Ashvin to Mágha, while those planted in Mágha give fruit by the 15 Phalgan to the first week of Aśádha.

Long bottle gourd is very tasty, but ghoti láu is the most productive. All varieties of bottle gourd are good for the stomach and can be taken by those suffering from stomach problems or constipation.

Pumpkin (Kumŕá)

Pumpkin is known by the botanical name “pumpkin indica”. It is called “kaura” in Bihar, “ralekha kumŕá” in Ranchi, “chál kumŕá” in Bengali, “sachi kumŕá” in Calcutta, and “petha,” which refers to both the fruit and the seeds, in Hindi. It is also called “chum kumŕá” by Muslims. Pumpkin sweet is known as “murraba” in Bengali when it is made from chal kumŕá.

Most varieties of pumpkin have little food value. Pumpkin aids digestion, is good for the kidneys and neutralises intoxication. If pumpkin is prepared with mustard seeds, its food value will be utilized to the maximum.

Many preparations, such as bhaji, charchari, pumpkin flour and basin pakora, can be prepared from pumpkin. The pumpkin flower can also be eaten. Pumpkin seeds can be cooked and taken as a snack, eaten with puffed rice (moori), safflower (kusum) seeds, etc.

There are 3 edible parts of the pumpkin:

  1. The pulp, which has little food value;
  2. The skin, which has more food value than the pulp; and
  3. The seeds, which are very nutritious.

There are various varieties of pumpkin. For example, ghumo kumŕá is a large variety, while chachi or chal kumŕá is a small variety. There are three seasonal varieties of chal kumŕá:

summer season, which is grown on the ground; rainy season, which is grown on a platform; and winter season, which is also grown on the ground.

The farmers of Shewra Phuli cut a small hole the size of a hand in the side of each pumpkin at a particular stage of maturity after the seeds have formed, and scoop out all the seeds.

The piece of pumpkin that was cut out is then replaced. Through this process the size of the fruit becomes very large, and ghumo kumŕá will become even larger. Information on the exact stage at which this process is to be done should be gathered from the farmers. Good pumpkin seeds can also be acquired from Shewra Phuli.

Pumpkin is a 3 month crop. The plant grows for up to 40 days, and after 40-45 days it stops growing and starts bearing fruit.

So, pumpkin starts bearing fruit after 1.5 months and continues to do so for the next 1.5 months. The fruit matures fully after the plant dries up.

Research should be done to see if it is possible to cultivate pumpkin from cuttings, like wax gourd.

If this research is successful, it will signify a new development in agriculture. But such research should be done very carefully, because unlike wax gourd cuttings, pumpkin plants are very watery.

Cucumber (Shashá)

Cucumber is an all-season vegetable which should be grown in sandy alluvial soil.

It will not grow well in clay soil. Cucumber is grown successfully in Hoogly and Nadia districts. There are two varieties of cucumber according to the season:

  • summer season
  • rainy season

Cucumber is related to the melon group, particularly watermelon and musk melon. Their agricultural needs and growing habits are very similar. Water melon and cucumber can grow in sand, but they need alluvial soil for sprouting.

All-season cucumber (baramasiya) is grown in Faridpur in Bangladesh. Cucumber is also similar to lady’s finger.

The white portion of musk melon and cucumber can be made into flour. In cucumber, the entire pulp is white.

Cucumber seeds can produce oil, but not on a commercial basis. They may also be eaten, but have very little food value.

The dried seeds are mixed with cháná chura, a popular Indian snack.

Bitter Gourd (Karela)

Bitter gourd, named after its extremely bitter taste. It is often fried, but it has more nutritional and medicinal value if it is boiled or steamed.

It is known mainly as a blood purifier.

To prepare bitter gourd seeds for sprouting, put the seeds in warm water, not boiling water, and after the water temperature has retuned to normal, soak the seeds for 72 hours. The seeds should then be sown.

Wax Gourd (Pat́ol)

Language Name
English Squat gourd
Sanskrit pat́ol or pat́ol laja
Bengali potol
Calcutta patal
Magahi white patal, green parval
Maithili paror
Bhojpuri parura or parora
Hindi parval

Wax gourd originated in East India, in the Ganga basin in Saheb Ganj, Maldha, Nadia and Rajmahal. It belongs to the Indica group. 4000 years ago farmers developed wax gourd by crossing telekocho, a type of rhizome, with khundri, a variety of gourd.

Language Name for Telekocho
Sanskrit bimba and magchi
Bhojpuri pilkandi

New varieties of wax gourd may be developed by crossing kundri and telekocho with wax gourd, or wax gourd with bottle gourd.

Crossing the male wax gourd and the female khundri will make an even better variety. Telekocho is a good medicine for diabetes, while khundri is good for digestion.

Wax gourd leaves have a bitter taste, but the fruit is sweet. The leaves purify the blood and are a good medicine for insomnia and the liver.

The wax gourd leaves can be dehydrated to make a powder, and the vegetable itself can also be dehydrated. Plants grown from the seeds produced by the vegetable bear very small fruits. Such fruits may be sweet or bitter, but the fruits grown from grafted plants are always sweet. For cultivation, only grafted plants should be used. In fact, all varieties of wax gourd have bitter leaves.

There are several varieties of wax gourd grown in Bengal and Bihar and include:

Peŕa pat́ol is found along the banks of the Damodar, Raina and Khandghosh rivers in Burdwan. It has a long fruit.

Indigenous gourd has a long, whitish-green fruit with stripes that are always green.

D́holak pat́ol has fruit that grows to a very big size. It is less productive than the other varieties, but has good market value. Dorma is prepared by stuffing this gourd with fish.

Whitish gourd (pashchimá pat́ol) which has a small, white fruit that does not taste very good. Greenish gourd

Wax gourd can be grown during any season, but its best planting period is between Aśádha and Mágha.

It is good for many diseases and has some food value as well. If wax gourd is grown in a field where betel leaf (baruj pán) is grown, its medicinal value will be increased. Betel leaf requires half light and half shade. Wax gourd may be grown in sandy soil like melons, but the sandy alluvial soil is recommended.

When planting wax gourd cuttings, follow the same procedure as watermelons and musk melons. A pit one and a half feet deep should be dug in sandy alluvial soil and filled with a mixture of compost and soil in equal proportions, then the cutting should be planted.

The cuttings should be prepared so that each cutting has two intact nodes, one at the base and the other at the top. Each cutting should be planted so that it is slanting with respect to the ground, and the lower node should not be covered by soil.

After the wax gourd cutting is planted, it requires shade and proper watering in all seasons for the first five to six days while the new leaves appear. Within 7-15 days, a green sprout will appear on the upper node.

After that it does not need much care. The plant starts flowering after one month. In the evenings the flowers bloom all at once at 11:30 p.m. sharp. When the size of the fruit starts becoming small, the old plants should be removed and replaced by new cuttings. Good cuttings are available in Burdwan, Ranaghat, Beldanga, Monghyr,

Farakka, Rajmahal and Saheb Ganj. Wax gourd grows well if subterranean water is available, otherwise the fields will have to be irrigated.

Wax gourd is mostly grown along the banks of the Churni river in Ranaghat, but it may be planted along the banks of the rivers in Purulia district. Snakes congregate wherever wax gourd is cultivated extensively. To avoid this iishanmula should be grown because snakes are afraid of its smell.

Serpents are also afraid of any copper salt, so they will not be found wherever there are deposits of this salt, as in Ghatshila and Mohabhandur (near Tata Nagar). Copper sulphate is poisonous for human beings.