Growing Gourds, Start To Finish, Final Chapter:

Gourd_GuyJune 14, 2004

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

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emmy57tn(z6 Tn.)

Thank you for this information.. Growing my first gourds this season and can't wait to see how they turn out. A lot of them are already blooming. I saw the other day I have a couple of Baby Light Bulbs.. This is a keeper........

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 7:34AM
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Thanks Kevin for taking the time and giving us some great advice. I did a little research about the ashes which are apparently high in potassium. I followed your advice yesterday and topped dressed my plants with the ashes. My crop isn't as big as yours, it brings in about a 400 gourds. It was a big job hanging each one seperately so may-be this year we will just pile them up. Thanks again and I'll let you know how it works for me.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 9:54AM
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This was great! Thanks for the information. This is my first year growing gourds. Looking forward to many more

    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 10:50PM
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tulsagentleman(z6 NE Okla. USA)

I am growing a nice crop of bottle gourds and was told that hanging them in old panyhose is a good idea. What do you think of that?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 9:09AM
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I am in Arizona, (just moved here) I also am a first time gourder, I really appreciate this site and the gourders. I hope to decorate mine, and give as gifts or maybe sell some. I have a tiny little patch in my front yard. Maybe only about 15 gourds, but I sure do appreciate all this help. Because I know NOTHING about this. Any tips from anyone, on painting, sealin, carving etc of the gourds? Anybody in Tucson?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2004 at 3:17PM
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How lucky can you get!! YOU are sitting on a gold mind of information!! Right there in your hometown!!

I am green with envy!! LOL

I would also like to invite you to join (free) the Gourdpatch. We are an online group and there is a huge amount of knowledge in growing and decorating gourds. You won't be sorry you did.

Please come join us...we would love to have you!

Good luck in your ventures and let me know how it turns out!!

Doris Henson~~~SC

    Bookmark   September 7, 2004 at 7:31AM
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Get with me if you`re still looking for gourds to work on-I still have about 300 or so from last year...more coming late winter!


    Bookmark   September 7, 2004 at 10:20AM
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Any hints/tips on bushel gourd enlargement? This is the second year I have grown them. The 1st yr I didn't know better and let as many as possible develop on the vine. Got about 12 per plant that cured over winter and came out o.k. but only 8-10"d x 12-15"h. This year I thought I would limit each plant to 3-4 gourds only. They have only achieved 16-18" diameter/height and have not increased size for the last month. I know our PNW weather is not the most condusive for growing warm weather crops, but I live in a unique micro-environment that gets 15-20 degrees warmer than the overall area. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks,
Bob F.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 10:11PM
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RuralGardener(z5 IN)

Gourd Guy, You should have Spike add this at the top under FAQ.

Great info!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 2:31PM
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anya_101(z5b central,IL)

Bob F.,
I only allow one gourd per vine myself, when it comes to bushel basket gourds. That way the plant is fully concentrating on just the one gourd for "size".

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 10:12PM
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granny_cactus(9b AZ)

I have a question, for anyone that might like to help. Can you plant different varieties of gourds together? Last year I planted birdhouse gourds, and pumpkins in the same area. The gourds seemed to choke out the pumpkins.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 12:10PM
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beach_bum(5B IL)

This a wonderful forum for gourd growing help and Gourd_Guy is certainly knowledgable.
I put my seeds in a damp paper towel inside a sealed baggie to get them started in just a few days. They get started early with other seeds under my "nursery" grow lights. I grow them up a shepherd's crook pole since I have only a 6' diameter bed to work with for all plants. I hand pollinate them about 10 PM and have only had a few fail to fruit over the years. If it looks like rain, I place the male in a baggie and twist tie the bag to the female branch. Any wind shakes the pollens together and the flower doesn't get washed out.
My neighbor had a lawn party (we live in townhouses with ajoining walls and lawns) last summer and a "guest" gouged 2 of my apple gourds. I applied a gauze bandage with saliva to keep the sun from doing too much damage and although they stopped growing larger, I was able to harvest them and just cleaned the skin from 1 last week.
Even the California mixed giant zinnias grew over 5' with the soaking that bed gets. Which brings me to my questions:
What are best companion plants? Any plants that disrupt PH?
Best fertilizers?
Since all the plants all get extra water, at what rate and how often is fertilizer applied?
I will try fish emulsion at 1/2 strength every 2 weeks this summer. And a monthly shot of liquid seaweed. For flowers, veggies and gourds.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 6:07PM
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Sparks1000(4 - 5)

How exciting.

I'm in zone 5 so our growing season isn't that long.
I've read here that it doesn't help to start seeds earlier in a greenhouse.

What do I do? Last year it froze here before the apple gourds were ripe.

I so want to grow gourds.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 10:37AM
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pipfarm(6 MO)

I live in zone 5--some years zone 6; I plant my seeds outdoors as soon as the soil is at 70 degrees. Thats as early as possible in the spring. If for some reason we have an unexpected freeze, I protect my seedlings with milk containers or buckets. If you plant that early, even though some or your gourds still look green at FallÂs first hard freeze, youÂll find most all your gourds will still cure.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 9:37PM
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ford8n(z5 NW PA)

I also Live in zone 5 and i grow birdhouse gourds
without any trouble at all.I have a small greenhouse that i start my gourds seeds in and transplant around the 1st. of june.I Also have just started the seeds right in the garden around the end of may and they did fine.It is best
after they get going to set them up so they well be nice and flat on the bottom.I say just plant them like you would a cucumber.Good Luck

    Bookmark   February 26, 2005 at 7:55PM
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When your growing gourds along the ground is it possible to direct them where you want to go ? Is there some sort of clip you can steer them with by running it along the ground ?

New to This

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 10:31AM
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yep, one thing that works very well is a sod staple. it is shaped like a mini croquet wicket, and can be found in landscaping supply stores. I don`t use them anymore, but I used to, and they worked great.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 6:16PM
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Thank you Kevin for taking the time to help alot of us 'first timers'. You answered alot of my qustions.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:59PM
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Hi Kevin--I have a question about my Bushel Gourds--I have quite a few growing and have been cutting the vines back a lot and have cut off some of the bigger leaves so there would be more sun on the gourds underneath--My husband thinks I will kill them but I have way to many to not trim them--Is there a good way to do this? Thanks for any help you can give--Nancy

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 1:30AM
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your gourds will be fine without dierct sunlight on them. I wouldn`t cut leaves from a vine...If you remove too many, the plant will start hurtin"...The leaves are where a plant makes food to send rootward...the last thing you want is a gourd plant on a diet!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 6:56PM
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Opps--Hope I didn't mess them up to much..It is O K to cut the vines back though....Right?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 2:13AM
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This was great info..thanks...
question though...I have tremendous vines and plants of squash and gourds and such...and they have been flowering for about a month now...but absolutely no I being to impatient? The vines especially continue to grow and branch out...and flower ....
and this time last year I had yellow squash...
any suggestions...

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 11:11AM
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Hi Wasabisworld--What kind of gourds are you growing? My bushel gourds have a lot of gourds and then some of my other gourds are just making fruit and some are just starting to blossom. I lucked out with really good soil here but I think it makes a difference as to what kind of soil you have for your stuff to grow fast or take a long time. When did you plant your seeds?...Nancy

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 12:18AM
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Hi, Where can find the previous posts on "Growing Gourds, Start To Finish, Final Chapter" I'm new here and just the got the tail end. =O) Wild_mountain_Rose

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 3:16PM
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one is on page 12 of the archives, the other is on page 13.

I thought about updating the whole thing, but it doesn`t seem like many people use the forum anymore.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 7:01PM
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gshann(Z6 PA ChesCo.)

What on earth is that monstrosity you are sleeping with on your page?! It looks like a birdhouse gourd. More like a bird-apartment-complex gourd, but I digress. I'm trying my hand at some this year. Any advice?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 6:10PM
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African Wine Kettle. One of my favorites!

Work your soil well with compost. fertilize with lots of potash. water deeply and regularly. don`t be in a hurry to harvest.have a plan on what to do with several thousand gourds when the market for them bottoms out. get the new Red Hot Chili Pepper's disc "Stadium Arcadium". take a hit on a 14 or 15 if the dealer has a 9 or better showing. don`t be sucked into the notion that reality tv is fine entertainment. don`t be a bandwagon-jumper...cheer for the underdog down there in the mud who's fighting their genetic prison to succeed. Never sell your dreams for small desires.
Always wear clean underwear.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 7:21PM
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icegardensnIN(z5/6 IN)

Thanks again for more great information.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 5:33PM
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Can anyone tell me what's eating my gourds and their leaves? I think its some sort of fly larvae. My organic spray is doing nothing to help.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:52AM
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