The Q&A Archives: Lavendars and Gourds

Question: 1. What is the best kind of lavendar for aromatic purposes ?

2. What kinds of gourds does one purchase to make ornamental items form; i.e. bird houses, baskets and are these stared from =seeds or bulbs?

3. What soils and care for both as I am new to gardening and starting at the novice level ?

Answer: All lavender (lavandula) smells good -- and for a novice you might try the Munstead or Hidcote types which are a nice size for most gardens. These are usually purchased as plants started from cuttings; "Lady" lavender can be started from seed and blooms the first year from seed. Lavender requires a lean, neutral to alkaline soil with perfect drainage, full sun, and good air circulation. Established lavender should be trimmed back by about a half or as needed to reach live wood in early spring and seems to do well with another lighter, quick trim after bloom.

Gourds are available in many types according to their uses, but they are all grown in full sun and rich garden soil. They should be planted out as transplants or seed when the soil has warmed and there is no danger of frost. Allow them plenty of room to run (rows 6 to 12 feet apart is not unusual)! You might plan on using floating row covers to avoid pest problems -- they are very similar to growing winter squash and other cucumber relatives.

Since you are new to gardening you might want to locate some basic books -- Perennials for Dummies by Marcia Tatroe (ISBN 0-7645-5030-6) and Gardening for Dummies by Michael MacCaskey (ISBN 1-56884-644-4) are both very straightforward and helpful and will point out many of the fundamentals to help you succeed the first time out.

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