Posted on 01 November 2010 by urbangardencasual.com

Gourd Today Gone Tomorrow

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gourdBy Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

This year’s gourd crop has arrived with mixed blessings.

My gourds were planted in a vertical fashion to maximize my limited space.

My birdhouse gourds and dipper gourds were planted on opposite ends of m clothesline with loofahs dispersed in between.

My bushel gourds and assorted varieties of gourds were planted along the side of my shed. All my gourds have been healthy this year but I have had some problems. Fertilization has been a big problem this year. My gourds produce male blooms in search of a mate to fertilize but to now avail.

The blooms have been so prolific that the side of my yard that has the gourds glows white under the cloak of darkness patiently waiting to attract a night pollinator. The show that Mother Nature puts on through the gourd family is beautiful but depressing at the same time when the power of white does not create offspring for the future.

But through this pollination problem I have ended up with 7 birdhouse gourds, and 1 lonely dipper gourd. But while the numbers and in some instances lack of numbers is depressing I am still excited about my crop.

Gourds are one of those natural wonders that people seem to mess up. One reason is we associate gourds with pumpkins, which do belong in the gourd family but are different. Gourds produce hard shells while pumpkins do not. Gourds can either be very fleshy or from the Lagenaria family or less fleshy that indicates they are from the Cucurbita family. But regardless of which kind of gourd you have it is always better to allow the gourds to dry on the vine or until they are light-weight and the seeds rattle inside.

This allows Mother Nature to follow through with her gourd design. Gourds need to go through a process called “hardening off.” This process is brought on by the gourd plants ability to sense the end of the growing season. The mature plant will secrete an enzyme that stops plant growth and encourages a natural drying cycle. This cycle occurs when the inside of the gourd shrinks and develops into the outer wall of the gourd. The outer skin also becomes solidified and creates a hard shell during this process.

Ways to Dry Gourds

While it has been stated that it is better to allow gourds to dry on the vine there does exist other choices. But keep in mind that these other choices may not produce quality gourds.

1. Picking Green and Drying Outside First cut the gourd from the plant. Twisting and yanking the gourd off the vine will create an opening for bacteria and possibly rotting. Next arrange the gourds so that air can circulate around them. Placing them on pallets is great idea and do not worry about rain. The natural environment such as rain and sunshine helps to wash the gourds and dry them. So if it rains do not worry they just get a bath and will not rot due to the moisture.

2. Picking Green and Drying Inside The natural process of drying gourds produces mold. This can be harmful to humans so choosing an indoor drying location is important. Also drying gourds smell and the smell is hard to get rid of so a garage, covered porch or the attic are ideal locations. But remember when picking the gourds to cut them from the vine not yank off.

Gourds have become associated with fall as decorations. They have also been associated with Native Americans and their use as ladles, baskets, and toys. Today gourds can be found as assorted birdhouses, Christmas ornaments, and can even be found in the most expensive art galleries.

So if you grew gourds this year remember patience is a virtue when it comes to gourds. So gourds can take as long as 3-6 months to dry while others take only a few weeks depending on their individual moisture content. If you did not grow gourds this year give it a try next year. Gourds are pretty much self-sufficient and can be grown vertically or horizontally across the land. And their uses are as assorted as the types of gourds that exist.

So until we blog again, Gourds may be here and gone tomorrow, but will never be forgotten, if dried as Mother Nature beds down until tomorrow.

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3 Responses to “Gourd Today Gone Tomorrow”

  1. urbangardencasual.com Carole & Chewy Says:

    I’m thinking you’re in one of the areas with a shortage of bees as far as the lack of pollination goes. I had wonderful plans this year for planting all sorts of unusual gourds,and then ran out of room. Then the volunteers came up from last years gourd crop, and they have taken over the garden completely and are drying on the vine as I type. Looking for bushel gourd seeds as we like to make them into giant permanent jackolanterns. And I love the way the leaves smell.

  2. urbangardencasual.com Ashley Craft Says:

    I wanted to plant gourds this year… but I missed the boat! Next year I am definitely giving them a try! I especially like the idea of planting birdhouse gourds! 🙂

  3. urbangardencasual.com tina Says:

    I think I may try drying mine on the vine. I usually pick them and place them in the garage-mainly due to tidiness in my small garden but would sure love the easier and probably better outdoor way. Great info.

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