There are two ways to grow gourds in the home garden: sowing indoors to get an early start on the season or sow directly into the garden’s soil once the soil temperatures have warmed up. Luckily for us, you can use this section to grow just about any kind of gourd, from tiny ornamentals to the birdhouse forms right through to the most weirdly shaped fruit you can imagine.
When to Plant
If sowing indoors, the middle of April is lots of time to get a gourd vine up and growing before planting outdoors.
If you’re going to plant gourds outdoors directly into the soil, wait until the soil has fully warmed up (usually the second week of June in zone 4)
Where to Plant
Full sun in warm soils. A well drained soil (and fertile one) is the best. Heavy clay soils are not the best for gourds.
How to Plant
Plant at 3 seeds to an 11 cm pot and thin to one strong seedling once 4 true leaves (real plant leaves, not small seed leaves) have grown.
Start at a soil temperature of 21C. Transplant (do not disturb the roots) in the middle of June once the soil and night temperatures have warmed up. Space plants approximately 1 M apart.
Outdoors, sow the seeds 1.25 cm deep in hills or rows. Hills should be approximately 1M across and three plants per hill or space the plants 60 cm apart.
Care & Maintenance
When the stem starts to shrivel and brown, the gourd is ripe.
After harvesting wash the gourd with a strong disinfectant to remove any dirt; gourds seem to rot quickly if left dirty.
Dry thoroughly for 3 to 4 weeks. When dry, wax with a good floor wax and they’ll keep for a long time. Note that shellac and varnish tend to change the gourd color. Let the kids spray paint – it will not harm the fruit.
Try growing them up a trellis if your space is limited; they climb quite well and the fruit stays cleaner. The smaller fruit can be easily left alone to ripen but the larger ones (over 1 kg) should be supported as they grow so they don’t bend or pull the stem and vine down. I’d recommend some old pantyhose tied to the trellis and under/around the fruit to remove the weight from the stem.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm