Gourds are one of Mother Nature's strangest plant creations; they have been valued for their utilitarian and ornamental value for thousands of years by many civilizations.
Large varieties are cut and hollowed out. They serve as plates, cups, baskets, bowls, boxes, vases and utensils like dippers or ladles.
Musical instruments like rattles, banjos, marimbas, didgeridoos and sitars can be made from them. They also make excellent nests for wrens, martins, chickadees, nuthatches and other small birds.
Smaller gourds make wonderful table top decorations and are perfect for Christmas tree decorations and for inclusion in wreaths. With just a little imagination they can be transformed into place holders, key rings or egg cups. Gourds can be painted in great detail, or simply in a minimalist style. They can be dried and preserved indefinitely.
'Cucurbita pepo' is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita; it is a relative of pumpkin, courgette and cucumber. The plant itself is a trailing vine and grows 2 to 3 metres in length (10 to 15ft). It can be left to run across the ground or can be trained up wigwam poles, trellises, arches or fences; it is also useful for covering unsightly walls and buildings.
This mixture has been taken from a range of small fruited varieties, they are often multi-coloured: orange, yellow, green, white and blue and a wonderful mix of shapes and sizes and striations. They are very easy to grow in pots and can be planted out in the garden or vegetable plot.
Gourds of all sizes are currently enjoying a revival in the craft world; cut, carved, drilled, burned, painted, dyed or varnished to a high gloss. If you have the slightest creative bone in your body, take time to search the internet – there are some very inspiring ideas and pictures. Great fun for both children and the more creative of gardeners!
Sow in late spring to early summer - April to June.
Sow indoors no sooner than 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Use a rich compost and sow one seed per 7cm (3”) pot. The seeds have a rounded and pointed end – push the pointed end downwards into the soil. (With flat seeds, such as these, never lie flat on the soil as they can collect moisture and rot quickly). Plant at a depth equal to twice the size of the seed – 1-2cm (½ - 1”)
Place in a warm place with natural light. The ideal germination temperatures are 20-28°C (70-85°F). The seeds germinate quickly in 7 – 10 days. Transplant outdoors once the soil have warmed and the plants have their first pair of “true” leaves.
Once soil is warm in early summer, seeds can be sown directly outdoors. You need about three months of frost free weather.
Plant at least 60cm (2’) apart on mounds of earth. Add plenty of organic material and mulch to prevent soil from drying out.
Different varieties will have different growth habits, but most develop best if the plants are raised off the ground onto a trellis or support and the fruits are allowed to hang. They will grow cleaner, straighter and they won’t get discoloured, which occurs when the fruits touch the ground.
Fertilize with a side dressing with organic matter or a balanced fertilizer when the vines start to blossom. Gourd vines can be self mulching, but use caution when weeding, since gourds are shallow rooted.
Water when the top 2-3cm (1”) layer of soil is dry. Gourds need consistent watering, especially once fruit has set. Water the soil, not the leaves to avoid mildew.
If pollinators are not abundant in the area, you may have to pollinate by hand, by removing the male blossoms and dusting them onto the female blossoms. The female blossoms can be distinguished by the tiny immature fruit at the base of the flower. It is normal for there to be several male blossoms produced before you spot a female blossom. Hard skinned gourds bloom in the evening and at night. Soft skinned gourds bloom during the day.
In early autumn (after 80-100 days) the stems will start to wither and turn brown. Harvest before the first frosts when the vines are dry. Use a sharp knife. Leaving a couple of inches of stem adds to the decoration. Throw out any bruised or soiled gourds. Carefully wash and rinse the gourds with a disinfectant. Hang in a cool, airy place, out of direct sunlight to dry for 3 to 4 weeks
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2.5 grams Average Seed Count 45 seeds Family Cucurbitaceae Genus Cucurbita Species pepo Cultivar Mixed Small Varieties Common Name Ornamental Pumpkin Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Notes Climber / Trailer