Novelty Gardening. Growing gourds is a fun project from start to finish!
Ask around to see if anyone’s been saving their seeds. Often when we save seeds, we land up with hundreds so you may find someone willing to share their supply….
I found these fabulous swan gourds at Thompson & Morgan (UK) – they have others, including a Russian doll variety! Please note these are novelty and decorative plants and are NOT edible.
If you already have a supply of gourds, dry a few and keep until next spring in a dark dry place. Then cut open the gourds and carefully remove the seeds. Sow the seed in seed compost about 1 inch (2-3cm) deep. Water well and keep warm.
Keep soil moist but not waterlogged. Make sure the pots are well drained. The young roots won’t be happy with their feet in water.
Growing gourds – Planting Out:
When the plants have 4 true leaves ( not counting the first two leaves ) they will be ready to plant out in the garden. Don’t plant out if there is any possibility of a frost. Keep your plants well watered and protected from the cold, and plant out when the weather is warmer. Choose a sunny position.
Soil should be dug and all weeds removed. Add well rotted compost or manure and dig well into the prepared patch. Using a trowel, dig holes for your plants, leaving the right amount of space between them.
Check on your seed packets for measurements, but generally about half to one metre apart will be okay. ( Growing gourds in your garden can take up a considerable amount of space ) If you are using disposable pots, plant the whole thing in the prepared soil.
Otherwise, soak the pot and carefully remove the plants one at a time. Handle the plant as little as possible, and quickly place in your prepared hole. Fill hole in with freshly dug soil and firm down with your hands. Water well. Then repeat with the others. Try not to let the light get to the roots of your plants too much.
**Use a cloche to protect the young plants if you need to.
**Watch for slugs….and remove!
**Keep soil moist but not waterlogged.
Other than that, the gourds should be getting on with growing themselves. When the fruits start appearing, make sure they are not in contact with wet soil. Smooth stones can be placed under the gourds as they get bigger if necessary.
Tip: When watering the larger plants, direct the water at the roots and not all over the patch. This will keep the soil dry in places for your gourds to develop. Also by watering in this way, you will discourage weeds between the plants.
Russian Doll Gourds (NOT edible)
Growing gourds – Harvesting:
When gourds are the right size ( check the seed packet ), cut stalk carefully, and dry in the sun for a day. Some smaller gourds can be picked by twisting the stalk slightly. If it breaks easily, the fruit has stopped growing and is ready to harvest.
Keep picking the gourds as they are ready and the others will gain more energy from the plant. Leave the last growing gourds on the plants until the foliage has completely died back or the weather gets too atrocious to support any more growth!
Growing gourds in your garden can really be a whole family project.:-) Make containers and bird houses, bowls and musical instruments from these magnificent plants! Keep a few for the seeds – to plant next year!