Growing Gourds, Start To Finish, Final Chapter:
Caring for developing Gourds:
Yah for you! You`ve got a gourd that`s been pollenated, it`s putting on size, so your job`s done, and you`re in fat city, right? Oh no-no-no-no-no-no! Couple of things you need to know. Gourds have far fewer pests than most crops you`ll grow, but it`s still something you need to be aware of. I have a greenish, 1/4 inch little chewy bug that seems to love bushel gourds. And, since I don`t want these guys drilling holes in a $150.00 Nigerian Bushel gourd, steps must be taken. First thing: when a gourd gets a little size on it, I`ll stand up the gourd and put a layer of white plastic underneath it. I usually use kitchen garbage bags. the white keeps it from getting too hot, and the plastic protects it from ground contact. ground contact is not evil in itself, but the plastic barrier will protect it from the lower-level food chain members that live there. By standing up the gourd, you also get it to flatten out the way you want it to. left to their own devices, a lot of gourds will develop on their sides, creating flat, marred spots that most folks find objectionable. also, if you notice insects chewing on your gourds, dust them with a little sevin dust. follow the package directions, and only dust the developing gourds. If you broadcast it, you`ll kill the beneficial pollenating insects as well. Should you have a gourd begin to grow hanging from something, and the weight looks as if it`ll be enough to snap the stem, build yourself a sling to bear the weight load. I use burlap, but any durable material will work. also, once your gourds begin to grow, often you`ll notice older leaves near the roots will begin to yellow and drop off. don`t panic, this is normal. usually you`ll see that new leaves are still growing and the gourds are doing fine. The gourd vine is just putting the majority of it`s enegry into developing its fruit. This is what we want!
Patience is key, here. Let your gourds grow until the vines die. The first killing frost you get will do this. For me, that`s usually the 1st or 2nd week of November. All the leaves will shrivel as if they`ve been shot. Don`t collect them yet! You wait until the stems of the gourds are brown and dry, about a week later. Use pruning shears to cut them from the vines, leaving as much stem as possible. some folks leave their gourds alone thru the winter, and collect them after they`ve dried. probably ok, but I`d worry about mine too much to do that.
Time for me to shoot at another notion that I believe to be a myth: I pile up my "common" gourds, and let them dry in a stack. I just don`t have the room to seperate 1500 gourds and let them dry without touching one another. If you have this kind of room, great. spread them out to dry. BUT...I`ve found that my percentage of gourds that don`t make it when seperated is about the same as the ones that don`t make it when they`re piled up.
I do make allowances for the huge and exceptional gourds that I get. these I will keep seperate and dry them in a building with fans circulating air. When they begin to slosh fluid in the inside, I drill a 1/16th inch hole in the bottom to speed up the process.
Gourds can go thru some horrible looking moldy stages, but as long as they don`t shrivel, they`re ok. some will dry in very short order, some will take 5 months or more. depends on the individual. If you have the patience, you can remove the outer greenish layer of the gourd by gently scraping it away. You`ll get a gourd that dries quickly, and has the skin texture of sanded lumber. If you try this, practice on a gourd you`re not real attached to, just to get a feel for it. I always do a few like this, and they turn out nice, but I also like the patterns that are etched on a natural-dried gourd.
any other questions, feel free to e-mail me. Hope this stuff helps out someone!
~Kevin aka The Gourd Guy