By Jannie Vaught
Gourds, Wiki definition, includes the fruits of some flowering plant species in the family Cucurbitaceae, also called Cucurbita, or the gourd family, the term refers to a number of species and subspecies with or without a hard shell. One of the earliest domesticated plants the bottle gourd. Gourds have been used for storage vessels, musical instruments, drinking cups, eating bowls, platters, dishes and specific art pieces. Gourds have been with humans since we needed a cup or tool. When to plant gourd seeds. Spring when all chance of frost is gone. direct seed into ground when soil is 60 degree. they like warm weather and need 100 to 160 days to mature.
Gourds in the Luffa family have extra hard outer coating and need to be scarified and soaked before planting. Gently rub the seeds on fine grit sand paper and then soak in water for 24 hours then plant. Other gourds seeds do not need this treatment and can go direct into planting. To start inside plant in a larger seeding pot under lights, they do not like to have their roots disturbed so have them hardened off prior to planting and don’t hesitate when removing them from the starter pot into the soil, water in. Gourds like to grow long and winding vines growing and climbing up and on anything they can. They need a trellis or large hoop, I find a sturdy fence works well and have had them climb trees. If they are in the ground have a large area for them to roam. Let therm dry on the vine before harvesting. Some picked green will collapse and mold and be unusable. After harvest continue to cure the gourds on a screen above ground with good air flow. They will form Spots and interesting patterns called “Bloom” which many gourd artist look for. Saving gourd seeds. When the gourds are completely dry and ready to clean simply soak in water and scrub the outer shiny layer off with a scrubber pad, let dry and cut for your project, simply shake or reach in and scrape the loose seeds out and the connecting pith. Store the seeds in a glass jar or natural paper bag so they have air flow and do not get moisture and mold. They are hardy long lasting seeds and have been found in ancient sites and been restored to a living plant after hundreds of years.
Nothing is more versatile then the humble gourd, used for art, storage, cups and dish scrubbers, not to forget the more popular” Bird house” hanging in a tree. When planning next years garden find a wide open plot or a fence and trellis and grow some gourds. And have a look at Gourd Art, very popular and there are groups that gather and make gourd “Art”.
Growing green with Jannie
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