Growing and Saving the Seed Of Bitter Melon

Latin name Momordica charantia, bitter melon is a widespread crop with countless medicinal and culinary uses from many different cultures and can be easily incorporated into many meals! It is fast growing, requires very little care and thrives in hot weather! It goes by many names, including goya, balsam pear, bitter gourd and karela.



Recent scholarship suggests that bitter melon is native to Africa and was domesticated in the tropics of Asia about 6,000 years ago. It’s believed to have made its way to China in the 15th or 16th century, and then on to Japan in the Edo Period of the 16th century.


  • Culinary
  • Its medicinal properties have been extensively studied, including its usefulness in regulating blood sugar.




  • Seeds germinate in 7-14 days.
  • Direct seed after all chance of frost has passed and soil has reliably warmed. You can start indoors 3-4 weeks before transplanting, but be careful not to let plants become pot bound.
  • Planting depth will vary depending on seed size, as sunflower seed sizes range widely. A general rule of thumb is to plant seeds twice their own width, so a seed that is 1/2 inch wide should be planted 1 inch deep. Most sunflowers are planted at 1 inch deep.
  • Ideal germination temperature is 70-75 F.


  • Bitter melon revels in heat and humidity.
  • Grow up a trellis or fence, spacing plants 24 inches apart.
  • Prefers full sun.


  • If starting indoors, using a heatmat works well.
  • Does not do well in cool/cold temps.
  • Bitter melon can be susceptible to mildew, aphids and fruit flies.


Saving sunflower seeds is very easy!

  • Allow fruit to completely mature on the vine, turning yellow and soft.
  • Cut open the fruit and scoop out the seeds, washing off the red pulp and seed casing. (Leaving seeds to ferment for 2-4 days in a little bit of water helps to break down the pulp, making it easier to remove.)
  • Spread seeds to dry in a well-ventilated location for a few days to a week, or until seeds are hard and dry.
  • It is not recommended to store seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.