How To Grow and Tell When Your Gourds Are Ripe
There are two ways to grow gourds in the home garden.
One is sowing indoors to get an early start on the season or, the
other, sow directly into the garden’s soil once the soil temperatures
have warmed up.
Gourds come in all sizes, shapes and colours
If sowing indoors, the middle of April is lots of time to get a vine up
and growing before planting outdoors. Plant at 3 seeds to a four-inch
pot and thin to one strong seedling once 4 true leaves (real plant
leaves, not small seed leaves) have grown. Start at a soil temperature
of 70F. Transplant the pot (do not disturb the roots) in the middle of
June once the soil and night temperatures have warmed up. Space plants
approximately three feet apart.
If you’re going to plant outdoors directly into the soil, wait until
the soil has fully warmed up (usually the second week of June in zone
4) and sow the seeds one half inch deep in hills or rows. Hills should
be approximately three feet across and three plants per hill or space
the plants twenty-four inches apart.
Try growing them up a trellis if your space is limited; they climb
quite well and the fruit stays cleaner.
You'll know your gourds are ripe when it gets to the advertised size
for that variety and the stem turns brown.
Harvest Before Frost
Do you have to harvest gourds before frost? Well yes and no. Lagenaria
species will tolerate some frost but cucurbita
not. You can which you have by the flower color. Lagenaria
flowers are white while cucurbita
flowers are yellow.
After Harvest Picking
After harvesting wash the fruit with a strong disinfectant to remove
any dirt; gourds seem to rot quickly if left dirty. Dry thoroughly for
three to four weeks. When dry, wax with a good floor wax and they’ll
keep for a long time. Note that shellac and varnish tend to change the
color. Let the kids spray paint – it will not harm the fruit.
Problems and concerns will be the same as for squash and pumpkin.
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