Goya Season is Back

IMG_7977 One of the most popular keywords that brings new visitors to my blog is Goya (aka bitter melon). One of my very first posts back in 2010 included goya in a recipe. I’m thrilled to see that goya awareness has grown so much over the past few years. If you’re looking for an in-depth article on growing or cooking with this healthy plant check out THIS POST. With 2014 well underway we’re heading into goya season, and although my current residence doesn’t have a great place to garden, I haven’t let that get in my way.

IMG_7976I’ve shared trellising ideas in the past, but this year’s set up is a bit different and includes some aspects that will work in apartment verandas or smaller spaces.  Since I don’t have a garden, I set up a small space with blocks and built a raised area. The area is two blocks tall so that I can grow root vegetables in the winter. For goya you need not go too deep.

I took the pictures in this post yesterday (early June), that means I set up my trellis and planted my seeds in early May. In Okinawa, it is a good idea to start early so that you can get a good crop before the typhoons that roll throughout the summer start. If you’re in a non-typhoon area you can still start your own green curtain or goya netting.

A month in, my goya is at the point where flowers are blooming to draw in pollinators with the very first baby goya and flowers about to come.


This Year’s Setup

IMG_7970Most of the large-scale goya netting I see is set up as a tunnel allowing maximum grow space and limiting the height the plant will go. This type works well if you have an open field, but for limited space or for shade creation a single wall works well. One of the biggest concerns is that goya vines will become quite heavy so you need a good load bearing support above and to the sides. Luckily, the place I chose to grow this time has a large sturdy tree above that I was able to anchor my netting to. I bought cheap growing stakes and wire to construct a frame for my net, then tied on the store-bought netting.

IMG_7973I was only planning on 3 plants, but ended up with four so I went with it. Three are in my home-made flower box and another is in a store-bought flower box. Since the location is next to a wall with a higher area on the other side, I will have easy access to the goya even when it grows quite high.

One problem I found with the soil I got from one of my local schools is that there seems to be a lot of bug larva in it which attack the goya far more energetically than I’ve seen in the past. I may have to resort to insecticide, but I’m trying to avoid that. To help keep the young goya shoots bug-free, a plastic barrier around the root, such as the top of an old plastic pot should help.


Good luck with your goya this year. Share your experiences with goya or pictures in the comments below.