Creepers bring this enveloping greenery which makes them endearing to every one in an instant. And if they also bear your favourite veggies, then what more can a kitchen gardener ask for?
Over the last 8 month’s i have grown Cucumber, Bitter Gourd, Indian Spinach, and now Bottle Gourd and Pumpkin (all creepers). Each one of them has left a deep impression on me and am surely going to grow them again in future.
The first creeper i grew was cucumber about which i have writtern earlier here.
The next one i planted was Indian Spinach (a perennial) some 5-6 month’s back (bought from Lalbagh for just Rs. 10/-). It continues to give me good yield till date. It’s a very important part of many Oriya and Bengali fish dishes and very difficult to get in the local market here.
And now i am trying to grow bottle gourd and pumpkin.
I had sowed bottle gourd around 20th of Oct. So, it’s been close to 2 month’s now. Sowing of most these creepers can normally be done in the container or soil directly and do not need seed starting and transplantation. One thing i observe with these creepers is they take quite a bit of time from the sowing stage to the 4-8 leaf stage but then they just take off from there and most of the time there is no looking back.
In my mother tounge oriya, the creepers like cucumber and bottle gourd are even called as ‘Rakhas(demon) fala’. Probably to convey the meaning that they yield in huge numbers. Of course, i can vouch for it after seeing the way my cucumber plants yielded. Some 3-4 cucumber plants yielded roughly 50+ cucumbers. I sure hope for the same or even better from my bottle gourd. Pumpkin out of all these creepers will be little tricky to grow in a small place like i have. But i want to harvest it’s leafs and flowers. They taste much better than the Pumpkin itself 🙂
There are some distinct patterns that i obeserve with these creepers. For example all these creepers except indian spinach, flower in a typical way. They have distinct male and female flowers. Male flower don’t yield and just fall off after few days while in female flowers the miniature veggie is there just behind the flower bud (probably a known phenomenon). But also what i find more interesting is almost always the male flower comes first in these plants in huge numbers before the first female flowers finally appears. But After the first female flower, there is a flurry of female flowers and the veggie accopanying it. So, as a gardener i always keep waiting for the first female flower to appear.
Also one more typical behaviour of these creepers is their veggies grow in no time and in matter of few days are ready for harvest. That’s very unlike lot of other veggies like say Capsicum which takes lot of time to become harvest ready.
While growing creepers, preparation of trellis needs special attention. Vines of these creeprs grow on the trellis is required for the vines to grow. Trellis can be made in various ways. Probably the most important point to be kept under consideration while preparing the trellis is to estimate the combined weight of the plant and it’s fruits. For example the trellis for my bitter gourd was just few string tied on to few nails on the wall. Bitter gourd plant and it’s veggies are very lightweight, hence the string did just fine. Whereas the cucumbers, bottle gourd and pumpkin require much strong trellis. Where as if you look at the trellis supporting the Indian Spinach it’s little thicker strings which are again tied on to nails on the wall. If you have a balcony and want to grow creepers, then probably there is no better place. The fun part of growing creepers is to train the vines on to the trellis. This requires very close observation of the plant at the growth stage on a day to day basis.
Just in case you are wondering where to get those small pieces of bamboo sticks for making your trellis, there is one shop very near to silk board just after the Total mall. I got 12 pieces of those 3 ft bamboo sticks for Rs 60/-.