Vaidya Kumbalam: Medicinal Ash Gourd Variety

By TheHindu on 03 Oct 2016 | read
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HEALTH REJUVENATOR: The fruits are green in colour, oval in shape and weigh 750 -1000gms.

M.J. PRABU

About four tonnes of fruits can be harvested from a hectare

ASH GOURD is a common vegetable used for cooking, making sweets and in the preparation of certain ayurvedic and siddha medicines. Ash gourd is called Petha in Hindi, Budagumbala in Kannada, Kumbalanga in Malayalam, Poosini kaiin Tamil and Boodida gummadi in Telugu.

Preparing medicine

Traditional vaidyasalas in Kerala use a specific ash gourd variety called Vaidya kumbalam or Nei kumbalam for preparing ayurvedic medicine called Kushmanda rasayana. It is also used as a tonic and health rejuvenator for treating diabetes, fever and also as a laxative. For more than a decade scientists at the Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS) in Chennai have been conserving and promoting the propagation of several traditional vegetable varieties such as Vaidya kumbalam.."We have a large collection of traditional vegetable varieties at our farm in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu," said Mr. A.V. Balasubramanian, Director of CIKS."The seeds of Vaidya kumbalam variety considered to be rare, are preserved at our farm to be distributed to farmers," he said.

Cultivating season

The fruits of the variety are green in colour and oval in shape and weigh 750-1000gm. "It is found to grow well in red, clayey and loamy soils and comes to harvest in about 80-100 days of sowing. It can be cultivated all through the year," said Mr. S. Arumugasamy, Programme Coordinator, CIKS.Before sowing, the seeds should be soaked in water for 4-6 hours and then in 5 per cent cow's urine for about half an hour. About three to five seeds should be sown in circular pits of 2.5-3 cm depth and irrigated. About one kg of farmyard manure, 500 gm of vermicompost and 100gm of neem cake should be applied as basal manure in each pit before sowing.The seeds germinate in a week's time. Only one or two seedlings should be allowed to grow in each pit. After 60 days, about 500gm of vermicompost and 100gm of groundnut cake should be applied as side dressing. Irrigation must be done on the 3rd and 5th day of sowing and should be continued at weekly intervals or once in 10 days.The first weeding should be done 25 days after sowing, and the second on the 40th day. The plant comes to flowering in about 50 days. The flowers are yellow in colour. During the initial stages of plant growth only male flowers are produced and there will not be any fruit setting.

Increasing fruit setting

"About three per cent of panchagavya solution should be sprayed over the plants during this time to increase the number of female flowers and induce fruit setting," said Mr. Arumugasamy. The crop is susceptible to pumpkin beetle infestation, thrips infestation, leaf-eating caterpillars and leaf spot disease. Spraying 10 per cent cow dung slurry on the 15th and 18th day after sowing is found to be effective in the control of pumpkin beetle infestation.About 10 per cent neem seed kernal extract (NSKE) sprayed on the 40th day is found to control the spread of thrips infestation. To control the damage caused by leaf-eating caterpillars spraying about 10 per cent Siriyanangai (Andrographis panniculata) leaf extract is found to be effective. Leaf spot disease can be managed by spraying 10 per cent cow's urine solution.

Harvesting schedule

The fruits can be harvested from the 80th day after sowing and successive harvests can be done at intervals of five days. About 4 tonnes of fruits can be harvested from a hectare, according to Mr. Balasubramanian.For more information readers can contact

Mr. A. V. Balasubramanian, Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, No.30, Gandhi Mandapam road, Kotturpuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600 085, Phone: 044-2447 1087 and 2447 5862, email: info@ciks.org and ciks@vsnl.com

 

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