Growing gourds is fun. They are a member of the Cucurbita family, which includes pumpkins and squash. In addition, they are easy to grow, too. Gourds come in all kinds of shapes, colors, and “designs”. The fun is in getting a variety to mix and match in the fall, creating an eye-appealing display, and making a wide variety of craft projects. When doing these craft projects, make sure to get the kids involved in the fun! So, what are you waiting for? Use this “how to grow gourds” guide to help you to grow a fantastic crop!
Did you know? Cross-pollination aids in creating the different colors and shapes that crafters cherish so much. The Cucurbita family is notorious for cross-pollination.
Are Gourds Edible? Yes, they 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
Use gourds 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, too. For example, the Birdhouse Gourd, as its name implies, is used to create unique birdhouses. Another example is Luffa gourds, which are used as sponges.
See and learn about the most popular varieties of gourds.
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. As a result, the plants will produce more and larger gourds.
Thin seedlings, to two to three per hill.
For planting in rows space seeds five to six inches apart.
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, they grow well on fences or garden trellis. An advantage of fencing is the fruit grows with fewer blemishes, as there is no contact with the ground. You may want to keep the larger hard-shelled varieties 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!
Ideal Soi pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Garden 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.
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.
Like other Cucurbita, gourd plants are affected by a range of fungi 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. However, the gourds themselves are not harmed by frost or freezes
Hardshell varieties require 110 – 130 days. Ornamental types need about 90 to 100 days.
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 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.
Harden off the gourds before 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.