Thursday, June 18, 2009
by Faith Wright-Draper aka "byfaithonly"
We all know that means you are crazy or at least acting the part but gourds are actually getting a bad rap from that old saying, “Are you out of your gourd?” Yes, there are some gourds that look a bit strange, even somewhat crazy, but gourds can put on a spectacular display in a garden and create some very functional fruit. Gourds can be used as decorations, birdhouses and birdfeeders, dippers, containers and much more.
If you are considering growing gourds in your garden there are a few things you will want to consider as well as some simple tips to make your gourd growing experience a good one.
The first tip could well be the most important. You need to consider space. Gourds grow nicely on fences and trellises or they can spread across an open area on the ground. No matter which they are going to cover a lot of area. Gourds grow on trailing vines that can spread as much as 50 feet or more. If you have a small space to plant you may need to trim back these vines as the season goes on.
The next tip would be to choose what type of gourd you would like to grow. There are dozens of types of gourds from bushel sized gourds to small colorful gourds just a few inches long. There are many websites online where you can browse the different possibilities. Just looking at the picture may help you decide which kind of gourd you would like to grow. You may want to plant more than one variety.
Once you have selected your gourds and gotten your seeds either from a local garden shop or ordered online you will need to decide when you are going to start growing your gourds. You will need to consider the growing time for the gourd as well as your growing season. Most gourds take between 110 and 135 days for germination to maturity. If you live in the north where there is a shorter growing period you will need to start your seeds indoors.
To get your gourds off to a quick start you can start the germination process faster by placing the seeds on a moist towel such as paper towel. Place this inside a clear plastic bag and place it in a warm spot – the seeds need warmth to start germination. You can purchase special seed starter kits for this or you can place the plastic bag with seeds on top of your computer monitor (providing it’s on all the time). You don’t want to cook your seeds though just keep them warm.
You will need to check your seeds every few days making sure they are moist. Once you see roots start to poke out of the seeds you will need to plant them in soil. If you have a long growing period as long as there is no danger of frost you can put them right outside where they will grow to maturity. If not then you will need to place them in pots to start growing until it’s safe to put them outside.
After your gourds are in the ground you will want to check them regularly for any signs of disease or pests and remove any problems you may find. You will also need to make sure the gourds don’t get too dry. If you are planting in good rich composted soil you shouldn’t need to water too often but if the weather is extremely hot and dry you will want to water ever few days. Watering in the early morning at the base of the plant is best to avoid getting water on the leaves which can cause problems such as leaf mold or sun burn.
In the fall if you want to use your gourds for crafts or decoration then it’s best to leave them on the vines until the first frost which kills off the leaves. After that you will need to remove the dead vines and discard them making room for next year’s crop. The gourds can be washed and dried to use as you desire. You can find many suggestions and tips on using your gourds.
Beautiful plants and a harvest of gourds growing gourds can be a very rewarding experience and really not as difficult as some would have you believe.
Faith Wright-Draper (aka byfaithonly) has been writing for over 40 years as a journalist, ghostwriting, and freelancing. She currently writes for several blogs, freelances, and on her own website www.byfaithonly.com
Previously published on Associated Content Are You Out of Your Gourd?
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