pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I have grown bitter and wax melons, but not serpent melons, but this year I can't get one seed of any of them to germinate! The seed coats are hard, and I tried the hot water soak method, suggested by the company, then a couple of weeks later I tried sprouting some in my seed sprouter - a method which usually either works, or tells me that I have bad seeds, when working with regular seeds. Still, none sprouted in the soil since 4-12, and none in the sprouter since 4-30, and I've been keeping them fairly warm - another suggestion. Today, I took an eye loupe and some tweezers, and carefully picked away at the shells, exposing the seed inside - a couple I ruined, but the rest seem intact. I'll find out if any of these germinate.

Any ideas on tricks to get these, or things like them to sprout? I can't believe that ALL of those seeds could have been bad.
Dave

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11437
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I have not grown serpent melons but bitter and wax melons are not hard. Bitter melon is a weed in my yard and I have to keep pulling them out. The birds bring them. You can try to soak the seeds overnight before planting and see if that helps. I don't use hot water. If the seeds float they aren't any good. Make sure your seeds are fresh, melon seeds don't keep that long. Make sure your temperatures are in the 70's or use a heat mat. Melon seeds will rot if they stay too wet so if the weather permits plant them in the ground after you soak them.

I don't usually soak seeds. I just plant them in a mound. My day temperatures are close ot 80 degrees and that is what they like.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28047
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Haven't grown those, but 85-90° even 95°F should work, assuming they are like the luffah. Pre-germinate then plant so you know the seed is viable, especially if space is a premium.

I liked using larger seedzip last year and will use the same method this year for my squashes and melons. Cucurbits can get stuck in helmethead just like peppers though, so allowing them to sprout in seedzip made sure they will grow.

...did you try soak-and-sink test? If they still floated after fully soaking, then they never germinated for me.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

evergreenseeds.com is where I got these, and they suggested the hot water method - 15 min @ 130°, then 24 hrs @ room temp. None of them floated, so I figured they were good. I'll try some fresh ones soon in the sprouter, and maybe pretreat them with something.
Dave

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11437
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I have to say, I don't have a lot of problem. The one thing though, if you are planting them in pots and not in the ground, make sure your pots are not staying too wet because squash does not like overly wet soils and the seeds can rot.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Today I took some more seeds out of the envelopes, and with the serpent (esp., as they are the thickest) and bitter melon seeds I filed down the sides of the seeds, not quite to where I could see any white, but until it started to change somewhat (the company recommends using a nail clipper, to chip off a bunch of the shell, but that seemed like I might damage part of the seed). The wax melon seeds didn't really need it - they are just like cuke or canteloupe seeds, though the shell is thicker. After researching it some, I decided to soak them in 500 ppm GA-3 for 24 hrs, then try to pre-sprout them. We'll see if it helps...
Dave

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11437
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I have to say, I have never had to go through that much trouble. Bitter melon seeds usually sprout readily. I don't plant my seeds deep. How deep are you planting your seeds? The only plant I have had problems germinating are Armenian cucumbers or snake gourd. I actually get them to sprout, I just can't get them to live long past that. I have been trying to sprout them in pots. Maybe I should just put them out where I want them to grow. It works for the other vines and maybe the small pots are the problem. I have eaten them and they are really nice and not bitter. The skin is so tender it doesn't really have to be peeled.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I planted these in small jiffy pellets, as I always start my cucurbits. I only keep them in there until the first true leaves are well formed - usually 2 weeks or a little longer with squash and cucumbers - before planting the pellet in the garden. I find this easier than direct seeding, since I don't have to try to keep them watered in a bunch of places, and it's easy to see what is germinating. I just shove the seeds into the pellets point down, barely visible, and sometimes I see the white roots on the sides, before the sprout pokes through the top.

I'll find out if the GA-3 helps any. They are now sitting on soaked pads in a covered dish, after soaking 24 hrs, trying to pregerminate them. I put 3 cucumber seeds in, too, as a test, plus it's about time to start the second plant, in my succession planting.
Dave

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

The GA-3 seems to be working! The first cuke seed sprouted in less than 24 hrs, and the other two by 36 hrs. - faster than I have gotten them to sprout in the past. And one of the bitter melon seeds has a sprout started, in just 48 hrs. Nothing on the wax or serpent seeds, but it is still early.
Dave

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Well, I never got any of the serpent melon seeds germinated, but I got one of the wax melons, and several of the bitter melons, though I only kept two bitter melon plants. One would have been enough, but I put it in the SIP bucket that I would have had a serpent melon plant in.

The new (for me) variety of bitter melon is Jumbo Choice, and it is jumbo for sure! And the plants are loaded, and not bothered by the heat, as last season's variety - Shanghai - was stopped by the heat about this time of year. This is why I chose this - it said that it was suitable for "subtropical" areas, which is what this area seems like for a couple weeks every summer!

The variety says that it can grow to 12-15" x 2 1/2". The larger one in this photo is about 10" x 2 1/2", so maybe I could have left it on one more day, but I didn't want to try it.
ImageDSCF0269 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
Dave

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5226
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

pepperhead212 wrote: ImageDSCF0269 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
The oriental people sell bitter melons at the Farmers Market. I have never bought 1 because it sounds like something I don't want to eat. Do they have a bitter taste?

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Gary350 wrote: The oriental people sell bitter melons at the Farmers Market. I have never bought 1 because it sounds like something I don't want to eat. Do they have a bitter taste?
This type (the smoother ones, with creases in them) of bitter melon is milder, while the ones with spikes or bumps on them are more bitter. They are often salted, like we used to do with eggplants (the bitterness has been bred out of those, for the most part), rinsed, then dried. They are sort of an acquired taste, though often the bitterness is just one part of the flavor - hot, sour, salty, sweet, and sometimes bitter, in many of those Asian dishes. I'm not fond of them as they are cooked in the northern areas of India, where they are the main flavor, but when combined with many other flavors, they are very good. Just think - chocolate is bitter on its own!

I made that pickle recipe today - sort of like a chutney, to be served on the side of an Indian meal. Here are the ing., ready to add:
ImageDSCF0270 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Here is the bitter melon, after frying for about 10 min., before adding the vinegar:
ImageDSCF0272 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

And one of the finished pints:
ImageDSCF0279 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

I knew that I'd like it with 18 cloves of garlic, and 14 chili peppers!
Dave

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I have a new (to me) variety of Bitter Melon growing this year - Green Giant. It is the type they grrow in Southern India, and I tried it because the two varieties I grew before seemed to stop producing in the heat (though I will say they produced a LOT early, until they stopped. They would eventually start flowering again, but the fruits would ripen while very small - 3" or 4" - so they really weren't a "second crop". This variety didn't start nearly as early, but are starting to produce an incredible number, on just this one plant, grown in a bucket sized SIP.

At first, it looked like all of the blossoms are male, which is normal for cucurbits, but now I see only what look like females, with these very small fruits starting on them. It's almost like a parthenocarpic cucumber! I was searching around for some males, in case I had to hand pollinate, as I do the bottle gourd, but all I see are these! You can see that it's a very small - about 3 inch - model of what the larger ones look like.
ImageDSCF0814 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

I got one of those serpent melon seeds germinated this year, but it never grew. I think I'll have enough Indian gourds this year!
Dave

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11437
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

The Chinese type of bitter melon is like they one you have. It grows longer and not so bumpy. The wild bitter melon which I have growing wild in my yard ( the birds bring the seeds), is smaller and have little horns all over the fruit. They are about 3 inches long. They are more bitter than the chinese type. BTW the leaves are also edible. The tip leaves can be picked and cooked with mung beans. It actually has good vitamins and is supposed to be good for diabetics. Filipino and S. Asian people like a little bitterness in their food. Pinakbet is a common vegetable stew using bitter melon, eggplant, and pork or shrimp.

There is a Chinese dish where the bitter melon is stuffed with seasoned ground pork and steamed.

The trick to cooking bitter melon is to add it at the end and not to cook it too long or stir it. If you add bittermelon to a pan dish, it is added at the end and the pan is shaken not stirred to avoid bruising the bitter melon and making it more bitter. The bitter melon should not be overcooked or it will be more bitter. It is ok for it to be a little crunchy.

https://panlasangpinoy.com/2009/09/09/f ... og-recipe/
https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/ste ... elon-98611
https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-be ... ter-gourd/
https://salu-salo.com/munggo-guisado-sa ... ung-beans/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Thanks imafan. Always looking for more recipes! lol Most of the dishes I made with those bitter melons the last two years were SE Asian or Chinese, but not because the melon varieties were from Northern Thailand and China, but because I liked the sweet/sour flavor in many of those in combination with the bitter flavor.
Dave

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11437
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

I went to a Filipino restaurant one time. It is a little hole in the wall. It was later in the afternoon. Ordered Pinakbet...they could not make that, ordered sari sari, did not have that either, ordered sinigang... it wasn't available either. Finally asked what do you have?
A lot of the Filipino dishes use the same ingredients. They were out of eggplant.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

That's too funny, imafan! You wonder how a restaurant could run out of an ingredient essential to so many dishes.

As much as I love Asian foods, Filipino food is some that I never got hooked on. As you noted, so many use the same ingredients, and one of the ingredients is vinegar, and not in small amounts. The sour in much of SE Asian is from lime juice, as well as tamarind, and the seasoned rice vinegar (Chenkiang) is delicious in Chinese foods, and all is in balance with the sweet. This is why I don't use much hot sauce, just to sprinkle on foods for heat - I just don't like vinegar in a lot of dishes.
Dave

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Here is the first one, almost ready to harvest. That is actually a tomatillo plant that this seems to be growing on. The vine is several feet long at this point!
ImageDSCF0839 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
Dave

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Anybody ever grow Bitter, Wax, or Serpent melons?

Here's that bitter melon, 4 days later. It's only 6.8 oz., so I could have left it on longer, since the description says that it gets to 1.2-1.6 lbs! But I wanted to try it small, first, as some are best then, and I'll try others larger. This variety grows slower, and was considerably later than the Chinese type of melon I grew before, but this is about the time in the season that those would stop growing, and not pick up until it got cooler, maybe late August. I'll find out of this keeps growing, or not.
ImageDSCF0883 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
Dave

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”