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Several Gourd Questions (soil, sun, wall thickness, , shape

Posted by JeremyD Alabama, Zone 8b (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 12, 13 at 17:17

Before I ask about specific gourd varieties, I would like to ask three questions about gourds in general:
1:Will gourds grow in clay soil?
2:What is the minimum amount of sunlight required?
3:What are the pros and cons of growing Gourds on a trellis vs on the ground?

4:Now, about the specific Gourd Varieties:
I'm thinking of getting two different gourd varieties to use, one for Purple Martins and one for smaller birds (Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren).

I know the traditional variety of gourd used for Martin houses is a birdhouse gourd, but given the latest recommendations by the Purple Martin Conseration society (Gourd width 12-14 or more inches wide with walls 1/4-3/8 inches or more thick) I'm thinking maybe it would be easier to reach these dimensions with a larger gourd variety.
Possible alternative varieties:
African Wine Kettle Gourd?
Basketball Gourd?
Bushel Basket Gourd? (Smaller than African Bushel, most likely still too big?)
Corsican flat gourd? (Might be too low?)
Zucca Gourd? (probably too tall?)
Others?

4A:what are the approximate average wall thicknesses (in inches or millimeters) of the above gourds, and which ones have the most durable shell?

For the smaller houses, I was thinking a gourd at least 6" wide,(preferably closer to 8"-9") as thick-walled as possible, and possibly with a thick curved neck that's 4-10" long and no less than 1&1/2 inches thick on the inside of the thinnest portion of the neck (preferably closer to 2"). I think if I put the entrance hole on the underside of the end of the neck, it would make a great built-in (Grown-in?) predator guard for everything exept snakes.
Possible candidates:
Goose/Duck Gourd?
Water Jug Gourd?
Apache Dipper Gourd?
Lump in the Neck Bottle Gourd?
Indonesian Bottle Gourd?

4B: Which are the most durable of the above gourds , and how thick are thier necks on average?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Several Gourd Questions (soil, sun, wall thickness, , shape

JeremyD - Not sure about your clay soils as I live close to the coast but I would say ammend the soil with some organic matter and it should help, or grow in pots. You will have to water more often if they are potted! Full Sun for sure! Trelis is the way to go! Have fun with them! I tooka bunch of old christmas lights and ran them along my trellis and it turned out flipping cool! Last season I grew long neck dippers, bottle, martin, and bushel. All where in pots at the four corners of my trellis. They took over everything in late summer! They found their way onto my japanese maples, tomatoe plants and even up and over my patio umbrella. We ended up with 60-70 gourds. We made birdhouses out of every variety along with bird feeders, vases and few other crafty things. This spring I have added a couple more trellis's for a few new varieties! Just have fun with them!!! I know we sure did. Here pictured are just a few of the birdhouses we have made. I placed a couple outside tucked into a J.Maple and a Camielia and already have new neighbors in them.


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RE: Several Gourd Questions (soil, sun, wall thickness, , shape

1. Yes but they grow better if that clay was amended with some organic matter.

2. Full Sun, 6 hours should be the minimum.

3. Ground Grown Plants: They are able to root at each leaf axil along the vine leading to a bigger, healthier plant with more gourds.

Trellis grown plants: Take up less space and gourds are more uniform and blemish free. However they will be straight, you won't get curved necks on your dippers or goose gourds.

It is great that you are trying to think so far in advance but questions 4, 4A and 4B have flaws. There is more variability within varieties than between varieties. Which is to say as far as hard shelled gourds go they are all about the same in terms of thickness. The thickness depends more on growing conditions than variety. You're asking for specifications that can't be nailed down. Good news is you don't have to worry about those things anymore, just go for a shape that suits you.


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