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How to Grow Gourds

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Do you classify a gourd as a flower, or a vegetable? It's not grown for their flowers. While edible, do you know of anyone who has ever eaten one? Botanists classify it as a vegetable plant, so that's where we categorize it

Gourds are fun to grow. Gourds come in all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes. Their unique appearance, makes them great for Fall arts and craft projects, and for decorating around the home and office. They are a member of the Cucurbita family, which include pumpkins and squash.

Did you know? Cross pollination aids in creating different colors and shapes for gourds. The cucurbita family is notorious for cross-pollination.

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Varieties of Gourds:

  • Ornamental Gourds-  These gourds are great for decorations and ornaments. These bright and colorful gourds brighten up your Halloween, Thanksgiving and other fall displays.

  • Hard-shelled- These are the larger and longer gourds that are used to create bird houses and other craft projects.

  • Luffa Gourds- 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.

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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 to two to three seedling per hill.

For planting in rows space seeds five to six inches apart.

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Days to Maturity:

Hardshell varieties require 110 - 130 days. Ornamental types need about 90 to 100 days.

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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.

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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.

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Like other cucurbita, gourds 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.

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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

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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.

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Drying and Curing:

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.

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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.

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More Information:

Garden Recipe Collection - find a recipe for all your garden grown veggies.

More on growing gourds


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