Step-1: Sow seeds about ½ inch deep in loamy well-draining soil that has been prepared with aged manure or compost. Karela can also be soaked overnight to speed up the germination. Plant the soaked seeds directly in the garden and cover with soil. Keep a distance of at least 12 to 15 inches between two plants.
Step-2: Keep the soil evenly moist till the time germination occurs. Since bitter gourds are grown in hot summer months, the soil will require frequent watering once the seedlings have established. Soil in containers tends to dry relatively faster. Hence it’s important to keep checking the soil with the tip of your fingers & water gently if it feels dry on touch.
Step-3: Trellising is required to grow bitter gourd vines vertically. Place a sturdy trellis at the time of planting that is at least 5 to 6 ft long. Growing bitter gourds vertically also helps retain the shape of the fruit.
Step-4: Regular pruning of the side shoots is also important to improve fruiting and control the sprawl of the plant.
Step-5: Like most cucurbits, bitter gourds are also susceptible to pests like aphids, cucumber beetles and fruit flies. It’s important to keep a close eye on your vines and remove them manually or use neem oil spray. Remove any weeds around the bitter gourd plant to control the pests. Garden friendly insects like ladybugs are also beneficial in controlling pests.