It is also known as “Luffa” sponge gourd. The vines of sponge gourd attain the height of 30 feet or more. The fruits of sponge gourd are cylindrical in shape and outer skin is smooth green. The fruit contains white inner flesh which is fibrous and have similar flavor to bitter melon. The fruit attains the height of 1-2 feet. Fully ripened sponge gourd contains high fiber content which is used as cleansing agent and for making table mats, shoe-soles etc. It is a good source of Vitamin A and C. It is used to cure jaundice, diabetes, to purify blood, and is used to cure skin diseases.
Temperature required for its growth is 25-28 degree centigrade.
It is grown in variety of soil types. It gives best result when grown in sandy loam soil. The pH value of soil ranges from 6.5-7.0 or neutral to slightly alkaline soil is good for plantation.
POPULAR VARIETIES WITH THEIR YIELD
To bring the soil to the fine tilth and to make the field weed free, ploughings are required. At the time of ploughing add Farm Yard Manure (FYM) in the field for the good yield. FYM @84qtl in per acre of land is added for quality crop production.
Time of sowing
The ideal time for sowing is in Punjab is end November-mid March , in Sindh February to July, Khyber Puhtoonkhwa end February to march and in Balochistan April to November.
Line to line distance 10 feet (Two sided) while plant to plant distance 1.5 feet (one side)
Use seed rate of 300-350g/acre.
At the time of land preparation apply fertilizer dose of 2 bags of Urea + 2 bags of Potash. After 15 to 20 days of first dose apply 1 bag of Urea. After 15 20 days of 2nd dose apply 1 bag of nitrophos. Before flowering stage apply ferti-macro 1-2 kg per acre and with the gap of 15 days repeat this process. Apply ferti-Bio 4gm /per acre with first irrigation. On fruiting stage apply Ferti K-50 2 kg per acre and repeat this process with the gap of 15 days.
To make the field weed free mulching and then weedicides are necessary. Apply Pendimethalin @1 ltr/acre or Fluchloralin @800ml/acre as pre-emergence herbicide.
In summer or dry condition, apply irrigation with the interval of 7-10 days and in rainy season, it requires limited irrigation. First irrigation must be done immediately after seed sowing. In total crop requires 7-8 numbers of irrigations.
Disease and their control
The symptoms are appearance of white powdery spots on upper surface of leaves which causes leaf withering.
Treatment must be given in start of hot and humid summer season. Application of M-45@2gm in 1ltr of water will help to cure powdery mildew. It can also be controlled by fungicidal sprays of Chlorothalonil, benomyl or dinocap.
PEST AND THEIR CONTROL
The symptoms are damage to flowers, leaves and stems.
Appropriate insecticidal spray will help to cure pests.
Aphid and Thrips:
They suck the sap from the leaves resulting in yellowing and drooping of leaves. Thrips results in curling of leaves, leaves become cup shaped or curved upward. If infestation is observed in field, To control spray the crop with Thiamethoxam@5gm/15Ltr of water.
Crops are ready for harvesting after 70-80 days of sowing. Carry out picking at the interval of 3-4 days. Harvesting of tender and medium sized fruits should be done. It gives an average yield of 66-83 qtl per acre.