Lauki (Bottle Gourd)
Bottle gourd, also known as Doodhi, Lauki, and Opo, is a versatile vegetable used similarly to zucchini, with a slightly sweeter flavor and firmer texture. This variety produces light green fruit, 1 to 1.5 feet long, and uniformly oval. Bottle gourd is a vigorous trailing or climbing plant with white flowers that open at night. Beneficial insects, especially bumblebees, are extremely attracted to the flowers. Just one thriving plant can grow over 12 ft, so it is essential to plant with a solid support and space to grow!
Days to maturity: 55-75
Seeds per pack: 32
Germination rate: 71% on 11/21/2022
Planting / harvesting notes
To start seeds, it is recommended to clip both ends of the outer seed coating with a nail clipper to quicken germination. Sow seeds placing the narrow end facing downwards into the soil. Keep soil temperature as warm as possible (ideally between 80-90 degrees F), and seeds should germinate within a week. Overnight temperatures should be steadily above 55 degrees F before planting outside.
Providing ample water through the growing season, a sturdy trellis or fence, and full sun is enough to ensure a successful crop. Just one thriving plant can grow over 12 ft so it is essential to place it in a spot with a solid support and space to grow. If using a trellis, space plants 3 feet apart. If allowed to sprawl on the ground, space plants at least 9 feet apart. Harvest often to send energy to new fruit.
As fruit thickens, the flavor becomes more diluted. It is best to harvest when the fruit is still young. If left on the vine, the outer skin will harden and fruit can be made into birdhouses, cooking utensils, or as is often done in South Asia, musical instruments.
Seed keeping notes
Allow fruit to thicken on the vine, and the outer skin to become hard. It is ready to harvest for seed when the gourd becomes a very light green color and is light and easy to lift. Due to the hard outer skin, it may be necessary to use a large knife or machete equivalent to cut open the gourd.
Seeds are mature when they are a light brown or tan color. Simply remove the seeds from the inner pulp and place in a big bowl of water. The seeds that float should be discarded. Lay out seeds to dry for a few days and then place them in a paper bag out of direct sun. They are now ready to be planted. Each gourd produces at least 40-50 seeds!