We are having problems in growing Curcubits – gourds (bottle), ridge gourd, cucumbers.
We are using Vermicompost enriched with trichoderma, mycoriza , coco peat and soil in equal quantity as a potting mix.
However the gourds start developing fruit but die (it changes to brown color and falls of), cucumbers are not forming fruits at all.
After doing research i have learnt that Vermicompost is a fast releasing nutrient and also lacks micro nutrients.
I want to grow organic way and not add any type of chemicals.
What are the proposed solutions
1. Adding Vermicompost regulalry – i.e. how much to add and how frequently
2. What micro nutrients are available which are organic.
Hello Jaivik and welcome to Folia,
There could be a lot of reasons for fruit dropping other than a lack of nutrients in your potting mix. Compost can be applied monthly or every couple of weeks. You can alternate between using liquid and solid compost. Just make a ‘tea’ from your vermicompost by pouring water through it and collecting the water. Use that water, which can be diluted further, as a liquid fertiliser. It can be applied weekly or fortnightly. In the tropics it is best to feed plants through mulch and compost as the soil is quickly leached of nutrients through heavy rainfall.
Other reasons for fruit not forming could be poor fertilisation of flowers – curcubits have male and female flowers that initially bloom at different times. You get lots of male flowers first, then female flowers start later. You can pick some male flowers and freeze them until female flowers start (the female flower will look like it has a mini-sized fruit beneath the blossom), then hand pollinate the flowers. Freezing doesn’t harm the pollen, and sometimes insect activity is a bit slow and the flowers need a helping hand.
If you are getting fruit, keep them up out of damp soil and mulch. Curcubits are often susceptible to fungal or bacterial diseases of which tropical soils have an abundance. I’m in the tropics of northern Australia and have encountered this problem myself. Solutions can be to grow the vines on a trellis or fence. That will keep the forming fruit out of the soil and promote good air circulation around the plant and its fruit. Some people place a board or rocks under the forming fruit to help keep it out of wet soil.
The problem could be bacterial, fungal or viral. Looking at your photo the blossom is withered but there are brown patches on the forming fruit below the flower. I would suspect a disease. I’ve looked through the Folia Pests and Diseases Database and found these few entries that may be causes of your cucumber problems:
Blossom End Rot
Cucumber Mosaic Virus
The most likely cause that I would guess from your photo could be Botrytis. I had the same thing happen to some New Guinea Bean (Bottle Gourd, Lagenaria siceraria) that I grew last year.
However, if you want to try to save the plants and hope that it is not a major disease, you could try spraying your plants with a weak solution of bicarb soda (sodium bicarbonate – baking soda) which acts as an anti-fungal. Perhaps try a garlic spray as garlic has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, or a dilute solution of milk in which case the beneficial microbes may help the plant.
I made up an anti-fungal spray earlier in the year for my mango, which was successful in stopping dieback. The recipe is here. No harm in trying and if it works you will have saved the plant. If it is Botrytis or some other incurable disease the plant will die with or without treatment. Let’s hope it is some lesser disease and you finally get a crop. Let me know how it goes.
Helpful question and answer….