Growing Gourds And Their Uses

Growing gourds is very enjoyable being a decorative and versatile fruit. There are many varieties of gourds available.

Gourds are a sure sign that autumn has arrived. These versatile fruits have a wide range of uses. They are used as centerpieces, in craft projects, as bird houses, and as simple but beautiful autumn decorations. According to the website published by the Ohio State University, in the article entitled "Growing and Curing Gourds in the Home Garden", written by Elaine Grassbaugh, Susan Metzger, and Marianne Riofrio, this member of the cucumber family has been used in a variety of ways for over a thousand years. It says the Native Americans used gourds for decorations and dried them to use for utensils and storage.

"Growing and Curing Gourds in the Home Garden" provides the following information which describes three of the many varieties of gourds. First is the cucurbita gourd which is available in many shapes and sizes. These are most often sold in grocery stores and used as decorative additions to autumn centerpieces. Varieties of this type to consider planting are "Bicolor Pear", "Mini Red Turban", "Miniature Ball", "Alladin's Turban", "Large Turk's Turban", "Bicolor Pear", "Striped Pear", and "Striped Crown of Thorns".

Luffas are a popular variety of gourd. When the outer skin is removed, the inside is dried and used as an exfoliating sponge. These are a long-season gourd with abundant vines and yellow blooms. Luffas are available in miniature varieties as well as standard varieties.

Last is the langeneria, which can be identified by white flowers that open at night. This larger variety has green fruit that turns light brown when dry. They are often used for birdhouses. Some varieties to consider in this group are "Caveman's Club", "Large Bottle", "Bird House", "Calabash", and "Wren House". There are many other good varieties to consider planting as well.

The website publication "Gourd Central". in the article entitled "The Spring Garden", which was written in 1996 by John J. McClintock, provides the following information on locations for planting gourds and soil preparation. It says gourds need well-draining soil in a location that receives at least 6 hours of full sun each day. Gourds grow best in soil with a pH level that is a little higher than average. A pH level between 6 and 6.5 is most desirable. If the pH of your soil is low, lime may be added to raise it to the proper level. If the pH level is too high, ammonium sulfate may be mixed in to achieve the desired level. Your county extension can provide you with information on the pH level of the soil in your particular location.

Gourds have a long growing season, so in areas of cooler temperatures it may be necessary to start the seeds indoors. "The Spring Garden" provides the following information on germinating seeds indoors. It suggests placing gourd seeds in the freezer for about 3 days to help promote germination. Another suggestion is lightly sanding the seeds with course-grit sandpaper or an emery board. Next, they should be soaked in water about 12 hours and placed between loose layers of slightly moist paper towels. Do not let the paper towels dry out. When sprouts appear, they can be planted in peat pots and place in a sunny location until there is no danger of frost. Follow the recommendations for planting in your area by consulting the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

The website "Gardening With the Garden Helper", in the article entitled "Gourds", recommends planting gourds approximately one foot apart. Since gourds grow on trailing vines, "Gourds" suggests using a trellis or planting them along a fence. Another suggestion is planting gourds by a sturdy arbor where they can freely climb and fruits can hang between supports. This would be an attractive as well as practical method for growing gourds. "Growing and Curing Gourds in the Home Garden" says a strong support such as an arbor is necessary for luffa gourds which need to be kept off the ground in order to prevent damaged and discolored fruit.

"Growing and Curing Gourds in the Home Garden" says to use 10-6-4 or 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 3 pounds for every 100 square feet of soil. Follow label directions carefully when applying fertilizer, and avoid getting it directly on young plants. Some fertilizers should be sprinkled around plants near the base instead of directly on tender foliage and roots.

According to "Growing and Curing Gourds in the Home Garden", if there has not been adequate rainfall, gourds should be watered regularly. Trickle hoses are fantastic for watering a garden since they simulate a steady, soaking rain. The same article says mulch can be a great benefit in helping to hold in valuable moisture between rows and around plants.

When growing gourds, it is fun to see what patterns and colors develop. Gourds are as useful as they are ornamental, and these uses are only limited to your imagination. Gourds are enjoyable to grow, and they make a nice addition to any garden.

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