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HEIRLOOM. Bottle gourds, also known as birdhouse gourds or calabash, are known for their rounded shape, which makes them perfect for making containers, large scoops, musical instruments, and of course, whimsically-shaped birdhouses.
These seeds can be direct sown or started indoors and transplanted. Wait to plant outside until all danger of frost has passed, and choose a location with full sun and well drained soil. For best results, provide a sturdy trellis. Gourds will begin to mature about 120 days after seeding. 2.8 gram packet contains approximately 14 seeds.
|Avg. Seeds/Packet||Packet Weight||Planting Season||Planting Method|
|14||2.8 g||after last frost||direct seed or transplant|
|Seed Depth||Direct Seed Spacing||Soil Temp. Range||Days to Sprout|
|Mature Spacing||Sun Requirement||Frost Tolerance||Days to Harvest|
Gourds grow similarly to squash, but are typically used for ornamental purposes, or to make vessels or tools, although some can also be eaten in their immature stage. They need warm weather, lots of sunlight, and plenty of space to sprawl or climb. Most gardeners direct seed their gourds in the garden, although growers in areas with a short season may prefer to start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Many people find that the larger-seeded varieties, like bottle gourds, germinate best after scarifying the seeds (scuffing the seed coat with sandpaper or an emery board) and soaking them in water overnight immediately before planting. Whether direct seeding or transplanting, be sure to wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up before planting your gourds.
Choose a location with full sun, and amend the soil with compost before planting. Some people prefer to plant gourds in hills, while others use rows. Hills should be spaced about four to five feet apart. Sow five seeds per hill and thin to three plants per hill after the seedlings emerge. If planting in rows, direct seed at 6 inch spacing, and thin to 12 inches apart after the seedlings emerge. Allow 5 to 10 feet of space between rows. Gourds will grow along the ground, but the fruits will be more nicely shaped if grown on a trellis or fence (no flat spot from sitting on the ground while growing). Once established, gourds generally take little maintenance, though they can sometimes fall prey to cucumber beetles and squash vine borers, so keep an eye out for pests.
Depending on the variety, gourds take anywhere from 90 to 130 days to produce mature fruit. Hard-shelled types such as bottle gourds take the longest. Always leave your gourds on the vine until the stem has turned brown, as harvesting a gourd too early will cause it to rot rather than cure properly. Ornamental gourds like those typically used for fall decorations (usually Curcubita spp) will keep similarly to winter squash. Bottle gourds (usually Lagenaria spp) should be dried in a warm place with good airfow for several months, until the pulp has dried and the seeds rattle inside. Then they can be hollowed out and used to create bowls, birdhouses, or other vessels. Luffa gourds should be left on the vine until they turn brown, then peeled to reveal the spongy fibers within.
Gourds (Cucurbita spp, Lagenaria spp, or Luffa spp) are insect-pollinated annuals related to squash. Like squash, they need to be isolated from other varieties of the same species by about a half-mile to prevent cross-pollination. And, like squash, their fruits must be left on the vine until fully mature in order to save seeds. For bottle gourds (Lagenaria) and Luffa, the process to save seeds is exactly the same as to harvest the fruit for normal use. Simply wait until the fruit is dry enough to hear the seeds rattling inside, then open up the fruit, remove the seeds, and store them in an airtight container. (Be sure the seeds are completely dry before storage.) Ornamental gourds of Cucurbita species should be processed like winter squash - cut the mature fruits in half, scoop out the seeds and rinse them under running water, then spread the seeds out on newspaper or screens to dry fully before storing them in an airtight container, in a cool, dark, and dry location.