Germ 7-10 days (CUCURBITA PEPO)
Multi- colored oval fruits with distinctive blunt thorns. 25 seeds
In Native American culture gourds were grown for eating and utensils. When cured, they were made into dippers, bowls, even baby rattles. Plants are extremely vigorous, covering a lot of ground--some of our vines even took to the trees. In general, these gourds require a long, warm growing season, ranging from 95 to 120 days to maturity. Gourds are ready for harvest when the stems dry and turn brown. Harvest before a frost. This is a Cucurbita or soft-skinned gourd and can be dried in a two step process, taking 1 to six months depending on the size of the gourd. First you must clean and dry the outside surface, wiping with alcohol will ensure the surface dries completely. Place the clean gourd in a dark, well ventilated area for about a week, turning and checking daily. Discard any fruit showing any signs of decay or soft spots, do not allow other fruit to touch. After about a week, the outer skin of the gourd should be well dried. Internal drying is the second step and takes about a month. Providing warmth will hasten the curing process and discourage decay. Keep in a dark, well ventilated area and wipe away any mold that appears with bleach. As long as the gourd is hard, it should be fine. Check often and turn so that it will dry evenly. When the gourd is light in weight and you can hear seeds rattling inside when shaken it is ready for painting or crafting.
Indoors- Individual biodegradable peat/cowpots 1” deep, 3-4 weeks before last frost with soil temperature at 70 degrees. Transplant after last frost without disturbing the roots.
Outdoors- Plant 1” deep, after last frost, when soil warms to 70 degrees. Plant 2-3 seeds every 18-36” apart, with the large varieties the furthest apart.
Harvest- When the skin is hardening and the stem is shriveled, brown, and dried. Cut the stem off closest to the vine.
Cucurbita Gourds- Harvest mature gourds before cold weather. Frost or freezing conditions causes’ injury to skins. Keep in a cool, dark, dry place for curing.
Lagenaria Gourds- Harvest in the fall after light frosts, when leaves die but before heavy frost arrives. Require a long drying period; 3-6 months with good ventilation and the gourds should not be touching each other. Check often for soft or rotten ones, discard them and if mold forms, wipe it off. When the seeds rattle inside and feel light they are dried.
Tips- Vines can grow 15 feet or more. Grow on a trellis for more uniform, straight gourds and for more garden space.