How to plant caetano melon

Momordica charantia

The São Caetano melon, also known as melon, bitter melon, niga uri (from the Japanese language) or goya (from the Okinawan language), is a herbaceous vine that can reach 5 m in length. Its fruits, depending on the cultivar, vary greatly in size, shape and external texture, and are usually eaten when still immature, cooked or as pickles. When ripe, the fruits become more bitter and open, but the pulp that surrounds the seeds is sweet, and can be eaten raw. Both the young leaves and the tips of the branches can be consumed. Melon is also used for medicinal purposes.


The melon or melon-de-são-caetano can be grown in tropical or subtropical regions. The ideal is a hot and humid climate, without low temperatures.


The melon needs high luminosity, preferably with direct sunlight, but tolerates partial shade.


This plant grows well in fertile, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and with a pH between 5.5 and 6.7.


Irrigate to keep the soil moist, but not soaked.


The São Caetano melon is propagated through seeds. These can be placed to germinate in a container with paper towels kept moist, which occurs in approximately two weeks. If sown directly, it can take a month to germinate. Plant in the final location or in small pots, in cups made of newsprint, in bags suitable for seedlings or other containers, and transplant the melon seedlings when they reach 10 to 15 cm in height.


Although it can be grown without supports, when the cultivation is low there are difficulties in harvesting the fruits. In addition, they can rot easily when in contact with the ground. Ideally, there are supports for the plant to use, such as pergolas or fences, or even walls and walls, as long as they have something where the tendrils can be attached.

The tip of the main branch can be cut to induce further branching of the plant. This is done when the first flowers appear.

The presence of pollinating insects, mainly bees, is necessary for the pollination of flowers and the formation of fruits. The plant features male flowers and female flowers, and if there are no pollinating insects in the area, manual pollination can be done with the help of a small brush with soft bristles or by picking and using the male flowers themselves to pollinate the female flowers.


Harvesting usually starts two to four months after planting.

The fruits can be harvested immature or ripe. Ripe fruits open and expose the seeds involved in a red pulp. In this case, only the red pulp is consumed. Immature fruits are harvested while still green or when they start to change color. These can be prepared in various types of recipes or used to make pickles.

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