Thursday, April 30, 2009

One Way To Plant Gourds

After trying several different plots of gourds over the years, this year I'm returning to the idea that worked best, but using a twist on it in order to accomplish two things at once.

I have an odd corner of the garden that I want to convert into an open, grass-free area (the idea is to build a permanent pergola over it, and have either a brick or pea gravel floor, thereby creating a sort of shady refuge I can rest in while gardening).

I also love growing gourds, and that means they'll do the hard work for me. To do this, I mowed the area till the grass was very short, then laid down a thick layer of newspaper, thouroughly wet it with the hose, then laid these discard plastic bread racks over it (turning them upside down). In previous years I've used wooden pallets and they work just as well, but this year I happen to have bread racks.

I left a 6-8" gap between the racks, filling it with bags of the cheapest top soil you can buy. If you have fill dirt available, it works great. Gourds hate good soil.

After filling the gaps with top soil, sprinkle the gourd seeds in the gaps, and lightly water.

Sprinkle them fairly wide apart (6-8") because in my experience, either none of the seed will come up, or *all* of it will come up. Gourds do not transplant well, and they grow incredibly fast. The upside is that (assuming they come up -one year they didn't) come July, this will be a mound of huge green leaves and vines that will kill all the grass underneath, and give off a wonderful smell similar to making bread.

The gourds will be able to sit on top of the racks, protecting them from dampness and insects, plus harvesting them is much easier.

There are many different kinds of gourds - my favorite is the huge bushel gourds that can grow to the size of coffee tables. We dry them (takes a year), hollow them out, then use a dremel to cut designs in them. After coating with a clear coat of sealer, we have permanent pumpkins to use at Halloween.

This year I've only been able to find birdhouse and dipper seed. Usually I hang the dippers on the fence along the puppy pen. Last summer, the pups grew some beautiful dippers on that fence (the dippers grow inside the fence as well, but the pups don't bother them at all).

Gourds are easy to grow - they love poor soil, and don't need watering (although the more water they get, the thicker their walls will be). And you can do strange things, like putting small fruit inside bottles, and letting the bottle shape the fruit, then break the bottle and let the fruit out.
I'm easily entertained. Give me a square gourd anyday.

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