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Old March 6, 2017   #16
Worth1
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This reminds me of the woman I had squash growing at her place.
I had yellow crook neck and flying saucer squash.
She would wait till the darn thing were the size of a hog before she picked them.
Totally worthless as far as I am concerned.
Worth
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Old March 6, 2017   #17
Zeedman
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You can actually eat bitter melon when it's ripe. I want the ripe fruits because I like the taste of them when cooked. We cook them in a pressure cooker with ribs and never have enough to eat. It's hard to come by the ripe ones because it can rot easily. The ripeness I'm after is when the colors changes from green to orange. But not orange and so ripe that it falls apart when picking it. We don't eat the seeds. We've always scooped them out and discarded them.

Also delicious in teas by itself or with some goji berries boiled with it.

How many bitter melon plants do you usually grow? I'm wondering if 4 plants will be enough. Usually we use about 15lbs of bitter melon to prepare the dish with ribs. It feeds about 5 people.

Is it a productive plant?
Yes, very productive. I even let one fruit on each plant go for seed, and it does not appear to slow production.



I usually grow a 24-30' row, with plants spaced about 24" apart. The photo above is one picking, during peak production. .. so you can probably estimate from that how many plants you will need. In my climate, they are best started as transplants.

In my experience, productivity varies widely, depending upon variety. The Chinese cultivar above, and a very bitter cultivar from Thailand with small, spiky fruit, are the most productive. Another Chinese cultivar I grew was less productive - but the top-shaped melons were up to one pound each!

Your comments on eating the ripe fruit are interesting. Most of the references I've seen - including advice from Filipino friends - says that the ripe fruit becomes toxic; perhaps pressure cooking neutralizes that. The stage of ripeness you mention is very short lived, they can literally turn to mush in 2-3 days.
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Old March 6, 2017   #18
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I'm not sure about toxicity or if it's a myth. I grew up eating bitter melon. We like the ripe and non ripe versions. My family really like those that start to ripen but are not mushy for the rib dish.

Using about 15lbs bitter melon broiling with ribs or in a pressure cooker with some black bean sauce and you're in heaven.

If you soak it in salt water, it helps reduce the bitterness. You can just boil it and make a tea also.

It's supposed to be really good regulating blood sugar levels.

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Yes, very productive. I even let one fruit on each plant go for seed, and it does not appear to slow production.



I usually grow a 24-30' row, with plants spaced about 24" apart. The photo above is one picking, during peak production. .. so you can probably estimate from that how many plants you will need. In my climate, they are best started as transplants.

In my experience, productivity varies widely, depending upon variety. The Chinese cultivar above, and a very bitter cultivar from Thailand with small, spiky fruit, are the most productive. Another Chinese cultivar I grew was less productive - but the top-shaped melons were up to one pound each!

Your comments on eating the ripe fruit are interesting. Most of the references I've seen - including advice from Filipino friends - says that the ripe fruit becomes toxic; perhaps pressure cooking neutralizes that. The stage of ripeness you mention is very short lived, they can literally turn to mush in 2-3 days.
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Old March 7, 2017   #19
tarpalsfan
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If they are fingernail soft, you don't have to skin the opo squash. Some gourd skin tends to get toughter when cooked. I don't what kind, but I had one before that about half was just wasted after cooking as my kids don't want the tough skin. The opo squash skin is so tender, you don't even see or feel the skin when cooked.

It depends on what kind of bitter melon you are growing. There are some very prolific variety that you will only need 2-3 to grow to harvest a lot. If you use that much bittermelon, I would say plant several more.

I hardly cooked bittermelon. I pickle it with garlic, shalot, vinegar and black pepper. I hardly use salt with it. I read that the salt is what induce the bitter taste. So if must use a salt, use at the end of cooking. But you said you always cook with it, so you're a pro in cooking it

I'm sorry, I'm new here and still don't know how to navigate post, reply and quote.
I grew open pollinated Green Skin bitter-melon. I grew five plants that I started from seed in an old cast iron bathtub that I turned into a planter. I tied some jute cord to some bamboo sticks and to a near by Oak Tree branch. They grew like crazy. Flowered and made plenty of Bitter-Melon. I don't think my husband thought that was a blessing! He isn't as crazy about it as I am.
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No pro here. I don't grow it every year. My family isn't crazy about it. I cook it was tomatoes, onions, and garlic-I like it raw.
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I used to grow Oodam's Devils Claw. The pods are huge and awesome. (invasive if you don't keep the seedlings under control) I ate one young pod raw. It was even more bitter than cooked bitter melon.
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I want to try your Biter-melon recipe. It sounds great.
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I don't know why more people don't try Opo. It is really wonderful. I still have to watch the seed leaf baby plants real close, or the squash bugs or cucumber beetles will get them-but once they start running, I don't think the bugs can stop them

WOW! That is a great harvest of biter-melon! Fantastic photo-thanks for sharing!

Last edited by tarpalsfan; March 7, 2017 at 12:37 PM. Reason: picture
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Old March 7, 2017   #20
Ken B
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Normal luffa is very good, strong for many people. Ridged luffa, which is another species is much milder and a great vegetable.
Yeah! The Ridged luffa's milder. Regular luffa is OK flavor, better for sponges; Ridged luffa tastes better, but not as good for sponges.
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Old March 7, 2017   #21
Zeedman
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I used to grow Oodam's Devils Claw. The pods are huge and awesome. (invasive if you don't keep the seedlings under control) I ate one young pod raw. It was even more bitter than cooked bitter melon.
Wow, almost missed that comment. If few gardeners have grown bitter melon, there are very few who have grown devil's claw (Martynia) or even know what it is. The young pods were supposedly used by Native Americans much the way okra is used. I tried it, and it grows fast enough to thrive (and volunteer) even this far North. Like you, I found the pods to be a little too strong for my taste. I still let a few plants grow every year, to harvest the ornamental dry pods. Mine is the Paiute strain.

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Old March 8, 2017   #22
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We call devils claw cow catchers here they grow wild.
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Old March 8, 2017   #23
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We call devils claw cow catchers here they grow wild.
Worth
Been hooked a couple times myself. Really tough spines, even my tiller can't break them. I've always wondered if I could bend the pods when young & form them into fish hooks.

There are several species, I've read that the yellow-flowered is the most palatable. It is hard to find though, so I've never been able to test it myself.

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Old March 9, 2017   #24
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Wow, almost missed that comment. If few gardeners have grown bitter melon, there are very few who have grown devil's claw (Martynia) or even know what it is. The young pods were supposedly used by Native Americans much the way okra is used. I tried it, and it grows fast enough to thrive (and volunteer) even this far North. Like you, I found the pods to be a little too strong for my taste. I still let a few plants grow every year, to harvest the ornamental dry pods. Mine is the Paiute strain.
I grow Oodhams Devils claw. What was supposed to be Oodhams' as the claws I grow have 3 of four tines instead of 2. I think my seed got crossed somewhere.
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About the Devils Claw plant, aside from the sticky leaves, do you think that other plants like it. I kind of think other plants like it?
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I still have seed, I will drop some and grow another few plants. But probably pick off the pods as I have too many.
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You will think I am strange, but one of my plants grew an awesome branch with 4 big claws on it...I have had it for years-we hung it from my porch like a wind chime.
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thanks for the rely
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Old March 9, 2017   #25
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We call devils claw cow catchers here they grow wild.
Worth
Cow catchers! I bet they are too! Shudder!
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Old March 9, 2017   #26
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I grow Seminole Pumpkin both to eat in place of squash when it is young and also let some mature into small pumpkins. I have given up on growing squash here because if the vine borers don't get it powdery mildew does. The vines are tough and I have never had a squash vine borer bother them. If you pick them green when they are about the size of a baseball you can cook them with the skin on or off. Because of their size a mature pumpkin is just the right size for a pie. I also use the ripe ones for any recipe that calls for butternut squash.

The vines can grow up to 100 feet long and will climb a tree if there is one around. You can keep cutting the vines back if you don't want it to take over your yard. They do put down roots as they grow along the ground. One of my vines grew over an 8 foot privacy fence so cut it at then fence line and forgot about. My neighbor ended up with a nice harvest of them too.
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Old March 9, 2017   #27
Worth1
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Cow catchers! I bet they are too! Shudder!
That's how they spread their seeds by getting hung up on the legs of a critter after they bust open.
Nature is amazing.
This is the one we have here.
Cant count how many times I have seen a cow with one on its ankles.
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Old March 11, 2017   #28
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That's how they spread their seeds by getting hung up on the legs of a critter after they bust open.
Nature is amazing.
This is the one we have here.
Cant count how many times I have seen a cow with one on its ankles.
I feel sorry for the poor cow with one of those claws around it's ankle.
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Those are neat claws! (not for a cow of course!) But the claws I grow are different, most of the claws 3, or more likely 4 tines, the tines alone are about 8 about inches long.
The claws I have are white seeded. My friend sent me some black seed for another claw...I got a new camera for Christmas, IF I can figure out how to use it, I will share a photo of one of the 4 tine claws.
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By the way, you have Devil's Claw growing wild? I grew up in S. Texas. I only saw a Devil's Claw once there, and it was one my grandfather had.

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Old March 11, 2017   #29
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I grow Seminole Pumpkin both to eat in place of squash when it is young and also let some mature into small pumpkins. I have given up on growing squash here because if the vine borers don't get it powdery mildew does. The vines are tough and I have never had a squash vine borer bother them. If you pick them green when they are about the size of a baseball you can cook them with the skin on or off. Because of their size a mature pumpkin is just the right size for a pie. I also use the ripe ones for any recipe that calls for butternut squash.

The vines can grow up to 100 feet long and will climb a tree if there is one around. You can keep cutting the vines back if you don't want it to take over your yard. They do put down roots as they grow along the ground. One of my vines grew over an 8 foot privacy fence so cut it at then fence line and forgot about. My neighbor ended up with a nice harvest of them too.
I thought about trying Seminole Pumpkin. I think that they are interesting, coming from South Florida. You mentioned insect resistance, how about disease resistant? Also, when you prune the vine, do side runners start? My neighbor-my in laws-if I thought the vine would repel...
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Old March 11, 2017   #30
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Yes it is wild just north of me everywhere.
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