A Quick Guide to Growing Indian Vegetables in New England

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By Upendra Mishra

BOSTON—Whether you’re a pro or a new gardener, the gardening season in New England has begun. Here are a few tips for growing some Indian vegetables in New England states.

Upendra Mishra

In addition to typical eggplants, tomatoes, chilies, dhania/cilantros, potatoes, you can also grow karela (bitter melon) and lauki (bottled gourd).

First, What to Do in Your Garden Right Now?

The weather is getting warmer, and days are longer as well. The is a good time to clean and take out weeds from your vegetable and flower garden. Once the weeds start growing, they will mature and multiply fast. They will develop stronger roots and it will become difficult to pull them or dig them out easily later. You want to stop the weeds right now in order to enjoy a weed-free (or less-weed) garden.

This is also a good time to turn and loosen the soil a bit so that it can get some air. This will be also a good time to mix some compost in the soil.

Best Time to Plant

You may be excited to plant vegetables right now, but it is better to wait until we consistently get 50 degrees temperature during the nighttime. It is the night temperature that makes a big difference. If you plant any vegetable when the temperature is below 50s in the night, the plants will get stressed. They may survive the cold, but you may not see a vigorous growth and, thus, less and smaller fruits and disease-prone plants.

It seems that night temperature is likely to hit in 50s in Boston area, starting next week. That will be a good day to start planting. For a great harvest, all plants must be put into the ground by the Memorial Day weekend: May 31,

If you have already bought your plants and not planted them yet, it is better to wait for a few more days. Keep them outside in the sun during the day and bring them inside during the night. If you have already planted them, keep the fingers crossed and may cover them during the night with a plastic sheet to give them some protection.

What to Plant?

Tomatoes, eggplant, chilies, squash, cucumber, zucchini, corn and similar plants grow easily in New England. So are different types of beans, carrots and peas.

Indian Vegetables

Karela: American nurseries call it Bitter Melon. Make sure you pick Bitter Melon-Indian. There are also Chinese bitter melon. They are very similar to Karela, but are much softer in both taste and texture. The easiest vegetable to grow in New England is karela. Once they are planted, they grow fast in full sun. This is one vegetable that deer and other animals don’t like, and these plants keep producing karelas through the end of summer and early Fall. Karela is a creeper and climber and needs to spread out.

Lauki: It is called Indian Long Gourd. Some also call is Bottled Gourd. Once planted and established in the ground, one plant of lauki can feed your entire family throughout summer and through early fall. It’s a creeper and you need a large space for it to spread. It can climb on fence and trees.

Dhania: You can grow your fresh dhania by sowing dhania (cilantro) seeds straight from your kitchen. Just soak the seeds overnight and sow them in the morning. You can buy dhania saplings from your garden store as well, but I highly recommend growing them from seed directly. If you do not have space, just sow some seeds in a flower pot or gamla. Please note that as the weather gets warmer, dhania flowers quickly emerge. You want to keep snipping flowers for healthy leaf growth.

Mustard and Methi: You can also take mustard and methi seeds from your kitchen sow them in the ground. You will be amazed by healthy leaves in early summer.

You can also plant spinach, radish, corn, peas, chard, kale and similar plants directly from seed. This a good time to sow these seeds.

Where to Buy Indian Vegetable Plants?

Plants like Karela and Lauki, you can buy at Russel’s Garden in Wayland, MA on Route 20. If you cannot find what you’re looking for there, ask a staff and tell them what exactly you’re want and they will find it for you.

Enjoy and Happy Gardening!

(Mr. Mishra is managing partner of the Waltham, MA-based integrated inbound marketing and PR firm The Mishra Group. He writes about his three passions: marketing, scriptures and gardening.)


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