HOW TO GROW GROUDS
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A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae, or a name given to the
hollow, dried shell of a fruit in the Cucurbitaceae family of plants of
the genus Lagenaria. It is in the same family as the pumpkin. For details
on gourd species, please refer to List of gourds and squashes.
Most commonly, gourds are the product of the species Lagenaria siceraria
(the calabash or African bottle gourd), native to Africa, and at a very
early date spread throughout the world by human migrations. This species
may be the oldest plant domesticated by humans.
Gourds can be used as a number of things, including bowls or bottles. Gourds
are also used as resonating chambers on certain musical instruments including
the berimbau and many other stringed instruments and drums. Instruments of
this type are fairly common to the Caribbean. Gourds are also used as a vessel
for sipping yerba mate by means of a bombilla, in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina,
Paraguay and Brazil, where it is called "cuia." Birdhouse gourds are commonly
used in southern USA for group housing for purple martins, which reputedly help
control mosquitoes. "Gourd" can also refer to the live fruit before it is dried,
or to the entire plant that produces that fruit.
Day-blooming gourds are pollinated in the same way as squash, and commercial
plantings should have bee hives supplied. Night blooming gourds are pollinated
by moths, which are normally present in adequate supply unless they are drawn
off by night lights in the area.
Gourds were the earliest plant species domesticated by humans and were originally
used by people as containers or vessels before clay or stone pottery, and is
sometimes referred to as "nature's pottery". The original and evolutional shape
of clay pottery is thought to have been modeled on the shape of certain gourd
The Gourds, Squashes And Pumpkins Database
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Gourds have been used for centuries as decoration as for their usefulness
as tools and utensils. Whether you want the crop for artistic purposes or
you just like the colorful squash sitting in your field, growing gourds at
home is easy.
Part 1 of 4: Preparing to Plant
1. Choose a variety of gourd. Gourds come in dozens of species, each with
its own unique shape, color, and size.
Gourds come in three general types:
ornamental gourds (cucurbita),
Ornamental gourds are brightly colored and oddly shaped, typically used as
decoration. The have orange and yellow flowers.
utilitarian gourds (lagenaria),
Utilitarian gourds are green while growing, and then dry a brown shade. These
gourds are most often used for tools and utensils because of their tough shell.
vegetable sponge gourds (luffa).
Vegetable sponge gourds have a shell that can be peeled off, revealing a center
that can be used as a sponge. These have yellow flowers while growing.
2. Determine when to plant. Gourds will grow in most climate zones, but they grow
the best in hot weather. If you’re in a location that receives freezing temperatures
throughout most of the winter, you will have to start your gourds as seeds indoors
prior to sewing them outside. Gourds take about 180 days total from planting till
they produce ripe fruit, as a result of their extra long germination process. Keep
in mind that if you’re in a cold area, you’ll need to start your seeds 6-8 weeks
before the last frost of the season. •Gourds grow best in temperatures between 75
and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Starting gourds indoors simply involves planting the seeds in individual containers
and watering on a daily basis.
3. Decide whether or not to use a trellis. Trellises are wood or wire constructs
built to hold plants off the ground, and in the case of gourds, are used primarily
to encourage unique shapes. You do not need a trellis to grow your gourds, as they
will grow fine on the ground. However, gourds that grow on the ground will have a
flat side where they lay, while gourds that grow on trellises will maintain their
rounded shapes. If you decide to use a trellis, set it up prior to planting your
gourds, and then stake the plants to it over time. •Large, heavy varieties (like
bottle gourds) will require a combination wood and heavy wire trellis in order to
support them without falling over.
Small gourd varieties can be grown using a large tomato cage as the trellis.
Luffa (vegetable sponge gourds) almost always need to be trellised.
4. Select a planting location. Gourds should be planted outdoors in full sunlight,
with plenty of space to sprawl. Although they can be grown in pots, this will
significantly limit their size and overall production. If you’re planting your
gourds without a trellis, choose a space with plenty of square footage for growth.
Otherwise, stake your trellis out in a wide area with plenty of sunlight and little
5. Prepare the soil. It isn’t too tricky to get soil under the proper conditions for
gourds, making them easy to grow in most locations. They like plenty of moisture with
a bit more clay than sand (meaning they may not thrive in sandy soil). Test the pH of
your garden plot to see if it is in the best range for gourds; they like acidic soil
in the range of 5.8 to 6.4. If your pH is too high, incorporate peat moss to increase
Part 2 of 4: Propagating the Seeds
1. Scarify the seeds. Gourds are infamous for their tough outer seed shell, which
is partly responsible for their extra long germination period. To prevent your
seeds/gourds from rotting because they took too long to germinate, you can scarify
them to speed the process. Use an emery board (paper nail file) or a smooth sandpaper
to scratch up the outer surface of the seeds. This shouldn’t take too long; the rough
paper should just roughen the coating of both sides of the seeds.
2. Soak the seeds. After the seeds have been scarified, place them in a bowl of lukewarm
water and allow them to soak. This should be done for a total of 24 hours, in order to
help speed up the germination process.
3. Let the seeds dry. After soaking for 24 hours, remove the seeds from the water and
lay them out to dry on a piece of wax paper. Giving them time to completely dry out will
prevent them from rotting before even sprouting.
4. Start your seeds. It’s a good idea to give your seeds a head start (even if you’re in
a warmer area) by planting them in starter sets indoors. Fill small seed trays with your
prepared soil, and place a single seed in each slot. Give daily watering until you’re
ready to transplant the sprouts outdoors, typically after the last frost of the winter.
Part 3 of 4: Planting Your Gourds
1. Dig your rows/holes. In the location you’ve selected for your garden plot, use
a small trowel or shovel to prepare the holes for the gourd seedlings. If you’re
planting many gourds at once, space your rows so that they are at least 5 feet
(1.5 m) apart, and so that there is 2 feet (0.6 m) of space between each gourd in
a single row. •Keep your rows near your trellis if you’re using one.
2. Plant the gourds. Place each small seedling or seed into its own individual hole;
don’t group several in the same space. Cover up the seeds with ½ inch of dirt, and
cover seedlings to the base of the new growth.
3. Care for your newly planted gourds. At planting, water the gourd seeds heavily so
as to reduce the risk of transplant shock. Gourds like plenty of moisture, so make
sure the soil is damp by adding water on a daily basis if necessary. Remove weeds as
they sprout, as these will steal valuable nutrients and growing space from the gourds.
If you’re using a trellis, as the gourds grow in size you can use a bit of string to
secure them to the posts and give them plenty of room for growth. •Add a layer of mulch
to the garden plot to lock in moisture and block out new weeds.
Consider incorporating an equal-part fertilizer (like a 10-10-10 mixture) to the soil
every few months.
Give your gourds extra water when the weather is particularly dry or hot, to maintain
a high level of moisture in the soil.
4. Consider training ornamental gourds. If you’re growing ornamental gourds, it is common
for growers to train them into interesting shapes and structures. There are two general
ways to train the shape of a gourd: bending over time, and by giving it a mold. You can
slowly bend parts of a gourd as it grows, if you want a winding snake-like gourd in the
end. You can also create a mold for your gourd by placing the small fruit inside a
breakable vessel of some sort (like a vase). When the gourd has grown, it will fill the
container and match its shape; you simply have to break the mold to remove it when done.
Part 4 of 4: Harvesting Your Gourds
1. Leave the gourds to cure on the vine. When your gourds have reached their full size,
the vine they’re growing on will start to die off on its own. At this point your gourds
are ready for harvesting, but you’ll make the job a lot easier on yourself if you leave
them to cure on the vine. Give them several weeks to a month for the curing process to
occur; as you check in on them, you’ll notice them getting lighter and lighter. Unless
you notice animals and bugs eating the gourds, there’s no fear of rotting or going bad.
If you have to cut the gourds early, wait till the vine at the top of the gourd has
turned completely brown and dry.
Turn the gourds occasionally and move them around to keep them from touching.
2. Remove the gourds. The curing time varies from gourd to gourd depending on its size
(and therefore water content). Check the gourds on a weekly basis to tell if they’re
ready. Feel the skin and check the firmness of the gourds; if they are at all soft or
squishy, they are rotten and should be thrown out. When the skin feels hard and slightly
waxy to the touch, they are likely ready to be cut. Shake the gourd as the final test to
see if they are fully cured; if they are ready, they’ll sound like a rattle with the
seeds banging around on the inside. Use a pair of scissors or shears to cut the gourds
from the vine.
3. Treat the shell of the gourd. Although it is not required, you can treat the shell of
the gourd to change its appearance and to help it last longer. Wash the gourd with a bit
of dish detergent and warm water to kill off any bacteria. You can then use a bit of
sandpaper or steel wool to shine the outside of the gourd, and add a layer of wax or
shellac to finish off the shine. You can decorate gourds by painting the outsides as well.
4. Consider saving the seeds. Your gourd will last for many years with the seeds inside,
but if you would like to save the seeds for the next year’s planting, you may do so. Cut
the gourd open to remove the seeds from the inside. Follow the same process of propagating
the seeds (as aforementioned) to help speed up their growth. You can keep the shell of the
old gourd, and you’ll have the seeds to create plenty of new gourds as well.
The process of treating a luffa (vegetable sponge) gourd is slightly different than
ornamental and utilitarian gourds. To remove the shell you will have to soak it for
24 hours after curing. A malleable sponge will be found in the center when the shell
is peeled away.
How to Grow Gourds
How to Dry Gourds for Decorating
How to Dry Gourds
How to Paint a Gourd
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American Gourd Society
Can Gourds Be Eaten?
Dried Gourd Maracas:
Tips For Making Gourd Maracas With Kids
For the Love of Luffa, or is it Loufah?
Gourds - Growing a Variety of Ornamental Gourds
The Gourd Reserve
Gourds in Shakopee
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The Gourd Patch
Gourds & Squashes: Types, Uses, Benefits
Gourds stock photos and images
Gourds: Types of Gourds, Growing Gourds, Curing Gourds
GROWING AND HARVESTING GOURDS
Growing luffa gourds
Growing a Variety of Ornamental Gourds
The Highly Versatile Luffa Plant
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How To Grow Gourds
How to Dry or Cure Soft-Skinned Gourds
Identifying Types of Squash & Gourds
List of plants in the family Cucurbitaceae
Making Gourd Musical Instruments
Our Guide to Gourds
Sharing and Learning about Gourds
Varieties of Gourds
The Wild & Wonderful World Of Gourds
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State Programs and Resources
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National Gardening Association
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GOURDS SQUASH PUMPKINS INDEX
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