Idaho Gourd Society

                                                 Rho Chapter of the American Gourd Society

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           Article from member of the Idaho Gourd Society

                                             Rho Chapter of the American Gourd Society

Growing Gourds by Jessie Newberry

Gourds are in the same botanical family as cucumbers, squash and pumpkins. They require similar growing condition - good soil, full sun - and are bothered by the same pests, namely the squash borer and the cucumber beetle.  Gourds are frost tender and will not tolerate any frost if unprotected.  Approximate frost free dates are from May 15th to October 10th. This is a 148 day growing season. It is best to start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost day (May 15th) or earlier if using season extenders (ex. Wall-o-Water).

When: Start seeds indoors three to four weeks before your frost-free date. To set out around May 15th, start seeds in 4” to 6” pots indoors around April 15th. Large seeds (bushels, basketballs, African wine kettles) should have the corners (“shoulders”) clipped. Soak all larger seeds overnight for better germination. If you don’t want to start seeds indoors, you may plant them directly in the garden when you would normally plant cucumbers or tomatoes.

Where: A sunny spot in good garden soil. Mix compost in the planting hole if you can. Water weekly if it doesn’t rain until the plants are growing nicely. After that, water only if the leaves look wilted. Avoid getting water on the leaves.

Bugs: Cucumber beetles are the main problem. Dust or spray plants with Sevin or Thiodan when you set them out, and thereafter whenever you see beetles. They are about 1/4” long and yellow with black stripes. Some are yellow-green with black spots. For a discussion of other problems and what to do about them, see Ginger Summit’s book, Gourds in Your Garden.

Weeds: Hoe, pull, till-whatever works for you. A straw mulch is helpful around the plant, but keep the mulch a few inches away from the stem. You don’t want to encourage rot.

When to Harvest: When the vine dies, or after the first hard frost, gourds can be harvested. Store the gourds in a shed or out in the open, up off the ground. By spring they will be very light and tan-colored, with a coat of mold.

How to Clean: Soak the gourd in water about 30 minutes. Scrub with a copper or stainless steel kitchen scrubber, and the skin will come off. Your gourd is now ready to become a birdhouse, dipper, container, or other useful or imaginative object.

About Seeds

Starting Seeds