Gourds for Birdhouses

chapru(z5bPA)March 27, 2008

I was considering raising some gourds for birdhouses, but are unfamiliar with them. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers yes, gourds no, so maybe someone could help me out.

How many gourds do you get per plant and what size area does the plant normally spread to? Thanks in Advance.

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sueloring(zone 4)

I was a beginner growing gourds and learned quickly that gourds plants are long, prolific vines and need lots of room.
One of the best things I figured out...run them up fences. We use old hog panels. It keeps them off the ground and you can find the gourds much easier and you can spot any bug activity on the gourds.
As far as growing them ...we mound up hills and grow 3 to 4 plants per hill. For each vine you can expect 5 to 7 gourds. I find if you pick the first biggest gourd right away the smaller ones will take off and all end up same size.If you don't run them up fences give them LOTS of room....as the vines will expand out about 15 to 20 feet each way.
Each year we plant our gourd seeds and watch them slowly grow for first month and then hot weather hits in late June and then the vines take off.
I add slow release vegetable fertilizer in each hill before planting and then fertilize every 4 weeks until they start blooming...you will get these great white flowers. I wait for small gourds to appear before I fertilize again and then to get BIG gourds I water like crazy til fall. I pick them when the normally green skin as turned white. I don't let the frost touch them either as it will discolor them. Some gardeners don't pick them til after first frost but I don't like the big brown marks on them as that is first area to rot.I cure them inside garden shed sitting on old wooden pallots. I don't drill holes or nothing....just sit them on pallet and leave them for spring. Come spring all I do is take rough brush to them to get skin off and spray with a little bleach and water.
From there you have your dried gourd....long process but worth it in end.
We also grow apple gourds for birdhouses...very cute and easy to grow. After drying you can paint them apple red and hang them in trees for birds to nest in...looks just like super large apples.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 9:02PM
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Wow, thanks Sueloring for all the info. I printed it out for further reference. Since I really don't have the ground space, I'l plant them up against a row of evergreens and let them run right up.
I have a shed at the house and one at the cabin, but I'm afraid that the mice or squirrels will get at them. Has that ever happened to you?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 1:55PM
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sueloring(zone 4)

We did have mice get into gourds one year...did some damage but not anything major. Since then we reinforced the shed and put lots of mouse poison out and haven't had any problems since.
One thing you can do is put the green gourds in your shed/cabin.The mice shouldn't get into them until they are closer to dried stage. Once your gourds start feeling hollow you can hang them in bundles and hang them up high in rafters of shed. They will keep drying and the mice won't be able to chew into the gourds.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 4:34PM
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Thank You again Sueloring. Great instructions.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Does anyone have any good ideas for Cheap and Strong trellissing.

I am planning on growing quite a few and need to make these strong and economical, especially this first year.

I have a long low fence, about 4' tall for some of the smaller gourds. But will also grow some large ones.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 9:17AM
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sueloring(zone 4)

We live in farm country and my dad works for farmer who wasn't using the hog panels that we use. The panels are about 8 feet by 15 feet and very strong. We have over 150 feet of fencing up for gourds and small pumpkins.
If you know of any older farmsteads chances are there are some hog panels sitting around not being used. So many hog farmers have gone to housing hogs in the lovely confinement buildings they no longer use the outdoor facilities.

Otherwise you can also use heavy plastic netting and run up sides of sheds or buildings...don't get the wire netting as it cuts thru the tender vines..especially if they are exposed to any winds.

My grandma used to take regular fencing ...cut 12 foot strips and run it the long way up the side of her barn. She ran morning glories up them- worked great and looked really neat with the long sections.

I don't know what else to tell you....I don't know what we would have done wit the hog panels. They work so good for gourds.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 3:06PM
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Take a look at the pictures in this GardenWeb thread: Trellised Asian Melons That would probably be the cheapest trellis you could make and it is obviously strong. Unfortunately the thread doesn't mention how it was constructed. However, I know that if you have some rope you could use a tripod lashing to make the tripod and square lashings to make the panel across the top.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 8:30PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

sueloring........do you just put up some metal stakes to hold up your hog panels? I have cattle panels up for other veggies, but they didn't do very well. Do you just plant the seeds right next to them? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 6:32PM
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sueloring(zone 4)

Catherinet....yes ..We just pounded in metal posts about every 8 foot and secure the hog panels with wire. I run my hills right along the bottom of the panels on both sides and direct the vine upward as it grows. Works Great!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 4:38PM
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Just an update and a note of thanks to you Sueloring. I printed out your instructions and followed tham as best I could.
In mid-late May, I put two mounds of three plants each in up against a row of evergreens that are 9-10' high and approximately 20' long. The plants started off slow, but as soon as the hot weather hit....look out. They started growing 2' a day and soon climbed up the evergreens, down the backside, and onto the neighbor's lawn! They've also grown the length of the trees and started to invade the garden. I've tried to cut back the more extended shoots, but it keeps growing. I fertilized them as you suggested and have been giving them plenty of water.
Right now at last count, I have at least 10 gourds that are easily 10-12 inches in diameter, with a boatload more growing to that size by the day.
Since your instructions have been right on, I'll pick them as you suggested; when the flesh turns white. Thanks Again......

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:27PM
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