Gourds are a fun vegetable to grow. They are a member of the Cucurbita family,
which include pumpkins and squash. In addition, they are easy to grow. Gourds
come in all kinds of shapes, colors and "designs" The fun is in getting a
variety of gourds to mix and match in the fall, to create an eye-appealing
display, and to make fun craft projects.
Did you know? Cross pollination aids in creating different colors
and shape of gourd. The cucurbita family is notorious for cross-pollination.
Other Names: Calabash
Varieties of Gourds:
Ornamental- As it's name implies, this type of gourd is for decorations and
ornaments. These bright and colorful gourds brighten up your Halloween,
Thanksgiving and other fall displays.
Hard-shelled- These are a larger and longer gourd, that is used to create
bird houses and other craft projects.
Luffa- This is also known as the sponge squash. It is actually grown for
use as a sponge!
Tip: Use gourds and other seasonal plants and vegetables in Weddings,
showers, and other parties in the fall.
Perhaps the most popular gourd, is the Birdhouse Gourd. People grow and dry
these hard shelled gourds for use as birdhouses.
Sowing Gourd Seeds:
Sow four or five seeds in hills, spaced four to five feet apart. Space rows
five to ten feet apart, depending upon how much space you have. The more
space you provide, the less overcrowding, and the more and larger the gourds.
Thin seedlings, to two to three per hill.
For planting in rows space seeds five to six inches apart.
Days to Maturity:
Hardshell varieties require 110 - 130 days. Ornamental types need about 90
to 100 days.
How to Grow Gourds:
Gourds are grown like pumpkins and squash. They like warm weather and lots
of fertilizer. The soil should drain well, contain lots of compost, and be
Because they are a vining plant, gourds grow well on fences or a garden trellis.
An advantage of fencing, is the fruit grows with less blemishes, as there
is no contact with the ground. You may want to keep the larger hard shelled
variety sprawled on the ground, as the larger fruit can break off the vine
if suspended. Fencing is great for the smaller, ornamental gourds. Try growing
them in a large container, and hanging them off your deck!
Tip: Place a small bed of sand under each gourd, to protect it from
slugs when it is young, and to reduce marks and scars on the bottom.
Insects and Pests:
Gourds, like their cousins the pumpkin, can be bothered by a wide range of
insects. They include the cucumber beetle, aphids, slugs and snails and squash
Like other cucurbita, gourd plantss are affected by a range of fungus and
viruses. Most notable is Downy and powdery mildews. Begin a fungicide treatment
as soon as signs occur. Better yet, apply fungicides before the fungus hits.
Start treatments when the hot and humid summer weather begins in your area.
Also see: Plant Problems
Gourd plants do not like frost. A late spring frost will kill your tender
seedlings. They will succumb to the first fall frost, unless you cover them.
Make sure to cover them if the threat of frost exists. The gourds themselves
however, are not harmed by frost or freezes
Harvest in the fall after the first frost. Even a heavy frost will not harm
a mature crop. Some people say to harvest them before the frost. We know
of growers and crafters who actually leave them outdoors all winter long,
letting nature do the drying. They believe the gourds dry more naturally,
with far fewer problems with mold. When harvesting gourds, leave as much
stem as possible. You can always trim the stem to the desired length and
look when finishing them.
The gourds should be hardened off prior to harvesting. This process is
accomplished by ceasing water and fertilizer, and letting the fruit ripen
and harden. A good indication that it is ready to pick are brown, dried stems.
Drying and Curing Gourds:
Gourds take a long time to dry. See specific details on
how to dry gourds.
Did you know? Gourds were commonly used in ancient cultures around
the world for a variety of tools and dishes.
For More Information:
There is a wealth of information about this fun plant.
Pumpkin Nook- How to Grow
Gourds and pumpkins a members of the same family and are grown similarly.
This site has lots of growing info.
Are you a gourdhead. Do you dare to find out?
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