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Growing Gourds

Gourds are a fun vegetable to grow. They are a member of the Cucurbita family, which includes 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 a wide variety craft projects. When doing craft projects with gourds, make sure to get the kids involved in the fun!

Did you know? Cross pollination of gourd varieties, aids in creating the different colors and shapes of gourds taht crafters cherish so much. The cucurbita family is notorious for cross-pollination.

Are gourds Edible? Yes, gourds are edible. You can eat the pulp of the fruit, after peeling away the hard skin. The seeds are edible, too. Try gourds in your favorite squash recipes.

Tip: Use gourds and other seasonal plants and vegetables in Weddings, showers, and other parties in the fall.

Other Names: Calabash


Varieties of Gourds:

Gourds are often used as ornamentals. They are great for fall decorating. Ornamental Gourds are hard-shelled. They are bright and colorful, brightening up your Halloween, Thanksgiving and other fall displays. Some gourds have other uses. For example,  the Birdhouse Gourd, as it's name implies, is used to create unique bird houses. Another example is Luffa gourds, which are used as sponges.

See and learn about the most popular varieties of gourds.


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:

Hard shell 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 kept moist.

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 vine borers.


Disease:


Like other cucurbita, gourd plants 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


Hardiness:


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


Harvesting:


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.

Gourdheads Are you a gourdhead. Do you dare to find out?


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