Tinda also known as Praecitrullus fistulosus or apple gourd in the U.S., is a light green cucurbit grown extensively in parts of Northern India and Pakistan bland meat of the fruit is cooked with spicy ingredients in curries.
Tinda makes for a great container plant because it quickly trains to vine vertically. The medium-sized fruits will grow healthier.
Learning to grow tinda in a container is easy, and you’ll enjoy the healthy melons all summer and well into the fall.
What is Tinda?
Tinda is widely consumed in its native range. It goes by several names that include Indian squash, Indian baby pumpkin, and tinda gourd. The skin is thin and edible when the fruit is young but becomes tough when mature. The fruit is white with numerous yellow or brown seeds. Tinda is primarily eaten cooked.
What Does Tinda Taste Like?
Tinda fruit has minimal flavor on its own. Tinda compares to cucumber well but has a softer texture. Most of the time, tinda gourds are peeled and sliced when used in a recipe. When immature, the seeds are consumed with the fruit. Older melon seeds are roasted and eaten as a snack like pumpkin seeds.
The lack of flavor from tinda makes it the perfect accompaniment to spicy flavors. Tinda is a frequent ingredient in curries in the regions where it grows. It makes an ideal meal in summer when the gourds are in season and plentiful.
How to Grow Tinda in Containers
Growing tinda in a container makes a lot of sense because you can keep the vines under control relatively quickly. Left to their own, tinda vines can tangle and damage other plants, and they become difficult to harvest soon.
Container growing tinda solves the worst challenges while taking advantage of conditions ideal for growing this unique Indian vine.
– Starting Tinda Seeds
Tinda seeds will readily start as soon as temperatures are above 70 degrees. Seeds germinate in as little as seven days in warm soil but may take more than two weeks if soil temperatures are below 65 degrees. Cool soil increases the risk of mold, rot, and fungus. The best way to start tinda seeds for planting in containers is to start them indoors.
To start tinda seeds indoors, soak the seeds in water for about 8 hours, then place in a moist folded coffee filter or paper towel. Once the seed sprouts, transfer it to a cup or tray with garden soil. Put sprouting seeds shell up in holes about one-half inch deep. Lightly press soil against the sprout.
Tinda seeds can be started indoors two or three weeks before the last frost and transplanted when rising temperatures. Transplant seedlings into containers when they are four to five inches tall with several true leaves. When tinda seeds sprout, the first two leaves are called cotyledons. After about the second week from growing, the first leaves will develop.
– What Size Container Do I Need?
A large pot or planter box is sufficient for growing several tinda plants. They even grow well in a five-gallon bucket.
A container that is at least 12 inches deep will give the roots plenty of room. Make sure your container has excellent drainage because tinda plant roots will rot in standing water. A suitable container for one plant should measure about 15 inches across.
– The Best Way to Fill a Container
Suppose you are using a very deep container. In that case, you can use items like plastic water bottles, packing peanuts, and other clean things to fill space. These products will increase drainage and take up space, so you aren’t purchasing soil that won’t be used. Do not use gravel in the bottom of your container. Over time, gravel compacts and prevents the water from draining, causing the problems you are trying to avoid.
The best way to get healthy plants is to start with good soil. Combine potting soil with perlite and organic compost, then add a small amount of river sand. This combination will provide the nutrients the plant needs and will encourage drainage. Don’t forget to make sure your planter has holes in the bottom for drainage large enough to prevent the container from holding water.
– When to Install a Trellis
Tinda plants need a trellis to climb, which is particularly important when you are growing in containers. Even though the tinda plant may not need a trellis for several weeks, you should place the structure the same day you transplant the seedlings into the containers.
This way, you don’t risk disturbing the growing roots of larger plants, and the young seedling will start to grow toward the trellis, which makes training the vines easier.
– What Kind of Trellis Works in a Container?
A tomato cage will work well for training your tinda plant in a container. You can also use lattice panels that mount to a fence where the container is placed to provide a trellis. You can even place several containers in a row with a pole firmly placed in the soil. Connect each pole with gardening twine and let the tinda plants grow on the strings.
One of the fun things about growing vining plants is the various creative ways you can provide climbing structures. The vines grow to about six feet in length. You can grow tinda vines along a fence or over an arch to create a dramatic point of interest in your garden.
– Soil Conditions
Tinda grows well in lots of soil types and will do well even in sandy, dry conditions. You should work an organic compost like steer manure into the soil several weeks before transplanting for the best fruit production.
Your soil should drain well to prevent moisture sitting. If you are planting tinda in your garden, make mounds about 10 inches tall and plant two to three seeds in each mound. Thin to one or two when they are about five inches tall.
You will want to select a place that gets lots of sunshine for your tinda plant. This vining plant is drought-resistant and can tolerate high temperatures during the summer.
You will have decent growth in partially sunny locations, but fruit production will decrease the more the plant is in the shade.
– Watering Tinda
Tinda plants are not substantial water users. The best way to water tinda in a container is to keep an eye on the soil. Let the topsoil dry out between waterings. Most plants will not require more than two or three waterings weekly.
When you plant your tinda in a planter or container, you should water with a can rather than a hose. Water only at the base of the plant, so the water is slowly absorbed. You want to avoid getting the leaves wet because of the risk for fungal growth.
Harvesting Tinda Gourds
Most varieties of tinda will produce ripe round melon gourds between 50 and 90 days after transplanting seedlings. The gourds are ready to harvest when they are full in shape, heavy, and green. Once the gourds begin to turn yellow-white, they are overripe.
Harvesting is simple, use a sharp knife to cut the stem of the gourd from the vine. Be careful not to drag the vine when you harvest because they break easily.
– Tip For a Better Harvest
When growing tinda in a planter box, you can control the number of gourds that develop by paying attention to the flowers’ anatomy. Tinda plants have both male and female flowers. The female flowers will have a swollen bulb at the base. You can remove female flowers to prevent gourds from growing. Cutting flowers can stimulate the production of new growth and improve the quality of tinda melons you harvest.
Once you learn to identify the difference between the male and female flowers, you can use the pollen from the male flowers to pollinate female flowers on the vines you want the fruit to grow. Cut the mature male flower and dust the pollen against the female flower. You can increase the likelihood of round melon production this way.
You can train tinda vines to grow on a suspended trellis. This method lets the plants have excellent access to sunlight and air. Developing gourds hang through the trellis, which makes harvesting much easier. A hanging trellis can be made from wire, twine, or other materials and supported high enough overhead to walk beneath. An old canopy frame will work well.
How Tinda Looks Growing in a Pot
The lush foliage and fast growth rate make tinda a favorite for pot planting. The vines climb well, allowing for a large crop in a confined space. They are ideal for small gardens, patios, or porches.
These plants are sun and heat-loving and spread vibrant green leaves on long vines throughout the summer and fall. The blossoms are great attractors for beneficial pollinators, which help to produce tinda gourds. Tinda makes a stunning and exciting plant in a container.
Pests and Diseases Common to Tinda Plants
Many common problems can cause your tinda plant to die. Learning to identify the common signs of a problem quickly will help to prevent the most significant issues. Tinda has many pests and can become infected by several pathogens.
The type and number of pests that may attack your tinda gourd plants varies with your region. In the U.S., gardeners regularly deal with infestations of whiteflies, fruit flies, and numerous types of beetles. Whiteflies can be particularly damaging as their population will rapidly increase. Severe infestations of whiteflies will kill an entire crop.
You will see whiteflies on the bottom sides of leaves. They are related to aphids and suck the sap, leaving a substance called honeydew. Ants are attracted to the honeydew left from the whiteflies. Suppose you catch whiteflies before the population is expanding. In that case, you may be able to rid your plants only by spraying them with water. More severe infestations should be treated with a neem oil spray applied in the evening, particularly on the leaves’ bottoms.
Tinda plants are susceptible to several forms of mildew, blight, and root rot.
- Mildew appears as a whitish fuzz on leaves, particularly near intersections of stems. Mildew is from a fungus that lives in the soil
- Blight is the result of bacterial infections. It will appear as leaves dying at the tips or edges suddenly. Leaves will quickly yellow, droop, and fall off
- Root rot is a fungus growing in overly wet soil that causes the tinda plant’s roots to rot away, killing the plant.
In most cases, you will need to destroy any plants showing signs of disease. Mildew may be controlled through the use of a mild neem oil spray. Discard infected plants, do not put them in your compost because the disease will be spread when you use the compost.
– Preventing Diseases
The best way to prevent diseases in your tinda plants is to grow in containers. Using high-quality potting soil ensures you have clean and sterile soil from the beginning. You should purchase seeds from a reputable seed company that stands behind its products.
Most tinda seeds are treated to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases. When you water your tinda plant, let the water slowly soak into the ground so that it doesn’t pool up. Proper drainage is essential for tinda plants.
How is Tinda Eaten?
The blandness of the tinda gourd makes it perfect as a canvas for exotic spices and bold flavors. Widespread use of the fruit is tinda masala, a vegetarian curry spiced with garam masala, onions, and ginger.
A Pakistani favorite is Tinde ki Tarkari, another curry dish using tomatoes, red & green chili, red chili flakes, and garlic. These big, rich flavors complement the mild tinda fruit.
– Nutritional Value
Tinda is high in several vitamins, including B and C. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, and potassium. The tinda gourd is also high in antioxidants that help detoxify the bowels.
Tinda is used in traditional medicine for weight loss, calming anxiety, and digestive aid. It may promote heart health, stimulate mood, and increase energy levels.
- Tinda is called apple gourd, Indian baby pumpkin, and Indian melon.
- It is native to India and is an important food source.
- Tinda makes an excellent container plant because its vines readily climb a vertical trellis.
- Tinda seeds start well indoors in containers and can be sown outside when temperatures are climbing.
- Tinda plants need full sun and prefer rich, well-draining soil but can be hardy during drought conditions.
- Tinda gourds are harvested around 80 to 90 days after planting by cutting the fruit from the vine.
- The most common pests are whiteflies that suck sap and attract ants. Controlling pests on tinda plants is easiest using a weak neem oil spray.
- Growing tinda plants in containers can help prevent the most common diseases because the soil is sterile.
- Tinda is most frequently an ingredient in curries throughout the summer months in Northern India and Pakistan.
Tinda makes a delightful container plant and an attractive vegetable in a small garden or on a patio. The melons are easy to harvest and work very well for almost any vegetarian recipe.
Training the vigorous vines to grow on arches, decorative trellis, or along fences provides a beautiful and functional way to enjoy the apple gourd plant.
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