Growing Indian Vegetables in the UK – Part 3

My previous two posts on the same subject commented on the germination, and growth of calabash and other indian vegetables in the UK. Unfortunately for us here in the United Kingdom, this was the wettest summer in the last 100 years. With lack of sunshine and lots of rain, many of the experiments I had planned to conduct on the efficacy of growing traditional indian vegetable came to nothing.

However, it was not all doom and gloom, and I’ve actually managed to harvest a few calabash (lauki, dudhi) this year (see picture below). The plants are now well over 10 feet long and have many young fruits on them (sadly, I think the winter will catch up and kill them before they get a chance to mature).

Lauki/Dudhi fruit about one foot long.

I have also had limited success with indian green aubergines (but not spectacularly).

Take-home lessons for 2013

At the end of the year, these are the lessons I’ve learned.

  • Start as early as possible with all Indian vegetable seeds (to give enough time to flower and fruit)
  • Use a heated germinator to maximise chances of growth. Germinate a second round of seeds a month after the first to use as backup
  • Keep the plants away from draughts, keep inside polythene bags to sustain growth
  • Gradually acclimatize to outside when all danger of frost has passed
  • Do not over water.
  • Plants such as Lauki and Karela are vigorous climbers and therefore need stable and strong support. They also grow really long (10 feet or more).
  • Once the first flowers appear, feed once a week with high potash fertilizer like tomorite.
  • Keep well watered
  • Beware of mildew (using a spray of 1tbsp baking soda with one teaspoon of dish washing liquid does wonders!)
  • Keep harvesting regularly to keep the flowers going.

You may wish to read the previous blogs on the same subject:

  1. Growing Indian Vegetables in the UK – Part 2
  2. Growing Indian Vegetables in the UK

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Scientist, hobby photographer and amateur gardener

4 thoughts on “Growing Indian Vegetables in the UK – Part 3”

  1. Hello. Wonder if you can help me.

    we have a dudhee plant, but they are growing small and falling off.
    Could you please recommend anything please?

  2. Hello Jawahar, I stumbled upon your blog while searching on how to grow indian vegetables in UK. Very nice set of blogs on this topic. That inspired me. I live in Sheffield & like to grow indian vegetables such as okra, small south indian type aubergines, chillies etc. Would appreciate if you can let me know where to acquire seeds for indian vegetables. Many thanks Sankar.

    1. Hi Sankar – thanks for your comment! I have generally purchased chilli and small aubergine seeds from online UK sellers like Thompson and Morgan previously and they have been good quality. For okra you will find hard to get seeds locally so best ask someone from India to bring it back with them.
      One thing that I’ve learned is that it can be quite challenging to grow tropical veggies like Okra in the UK unless grown under glass in a greenhouse/conservatory. The trick is to start early (Mid-April). The summer growing season deadline has now long passed for this year sadly!
      Also for bitter gourd you can get seeds from the market bought vegetables. Pick a mature one and extract the seeds and let them dry out fully, store till next spring and germinate :).

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