Growing large gourds

Monek Marie
Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

I absolutely love growing gourds!

In my zone, 5B, the larger gourds that take 100 plus days can be challenging to grow. Add to that, many larger gourds take 21 days to germinate. If you plant the seeds outdoors and you have a cold dip they often rot. So I have my own method of germinating them.

I am not fond of styrofoam cups but they work well for this.

I take a styrofoam cup, damp toilet paper and place in bottom of cup. I place the seed on that and add more damp toilet paper. I place on the kitchen cupboard and check daily to see if the toilet paper is still damp. Plastic wrap on top would help the paper to stay damp in warmer climates. If the toilet paper is drying out I spritz it back to being damp. I usually put a hole in the bottom of the cup to drain, just in case I over water.

I do not use paper towels because if the roots grow faster than you realize they get in the paper towel and they are hard to remove - often damaging the small roots. Toilet paper just breaks down once planted.

Usually in 4 to 10 days the seeds will germinate, saving a lot of time. My germination is usually over 90%. Gourds really don't like being transplanted so I will often plant these small plants in a pot made of newspaper that will break down when planted. Just plant the entire pot, making sure any newspaper is below the soil line, even if you have to cut or rip it off. Any newspaper left above the soil line will dry out fasted and take water away from your plant.

When nights are warm, place outdoors. I often put a cover over my gourds just in case I have a last frost. We are known for that. So, always be prepared is my motto.

I try to reuse the styrofoam cups numerous times and later I will break them up to put in bottom of hanging baskets to help retain moisture.


  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2021

    My first year of growing large gourds was rather unique. I bought a package that contained 5 large gourd varieties. I knew they took time to grow and could be heavy but other than that I was clueless on how to grow them. I did a little research and planted them, hoping for a fun crop.

    I put a row at the bottom of the garden so that is would not shade the garden during the day and I decided they should grow on a fence. The dipper gourd will get a straight neck and stem if grown on a fence.

    Well, when you have over 70 gourds growing you need a sturdy fence, mine was not. I went out to find the better part of the fence had fallen due to weight. I figured just let it stay like it is, after I tried to get it back up. What gourds I could harvest at the end of the season I would.

    I tried to weed that area but its was difficult so I mulched it and ignored it unless my curiousity got the best of me. One day I decided to taek a look and see how many gourds I had growing. I was poking around in there and touched this huge green snake. It was over 3 foot long. Snakes terrify me so I jumped back and let out my snake scream. After I calmed down a bit I took a look and realized it was a gourd. The is one they call a snake gourd and it is named appropriately.

    I needed to calm down so I went to the house for ice tea. I was not there long when the phone rang. It was my neighbor who lives close to half a mile away. "Denise, I heard your snake scream all the way up here. Are you ok?

    "Yes, It was only a gourd", I said. The next day she had to come up to see the gourd

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would love to be able to grow gourds someday soon. Loofah is one I'm very interested in trying. Have you planted any of those before @Denise Grant? 😊

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2021

    Oh yes @JennyT

    Luffahs starts out slow and you think you are not going to have a crop and then they take off. In my climate its best to start them early indoors then put out. Zone 5 B here. Your climate they would grow well in.

    They are fun to grow but not so much fun to peel, Maybe someone here has an easy way to do it

    I would highly recommend growing them. Besides making a great scrubber they also make a great soap bar scrubber if you cut them in circular pieces once dried and pour soap on top. Let dry and you have a natural soap scrubber.

  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 947 ✭✭✭✭

    That's a great idea!

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2021

    I love to craft with gourds.

    I grew bushel gourds one year. I take off all of the blossoms but one on each plant to try and grow a huge bushel gourd. It worked very well and I was so impressed, until I tried to move them. The gourds were so heavy that I could not pick them up, so I rolled them 500 feet instead to the barn. And a gourd that big takes close to a year to dry out. You need to roll it a bit when its drying to help it dry more evenly and I would take a bleach water mix and wipe them off. If you wipe them off they will cry cleaner with less to scrap or sand off. (You get really cool designs on a gourd if the skin it dries on but you have mold too.)

    I ended up with 10 huge gourds and one mid sized, which was still 2 foot in diameter. Several I turned into a toy box and a few I made in to footstools.

    The bushel gourds once dried had a skin or shell that was close to a inch think and just like wood. I had to use a jig saw to cut it.

    I have also made canteens, drums, a guitar, boxes, bird house, jewelry boxs and other whimsical items from gourds.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2021

    On a thinner gourds you can punch small holes around any opening you make and weave on dried pine needles for a unique look.