The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Gourds

Question: I need information on harvesting ornamental gourds. I have planted the "bird house" and "bowl" type gourds. I am not sure on how prep them for decoration.

Thank you for your help.

Answer: Gourds are both fun and practical to grow. Gourds are divided into two categories - hard-shelled and thin-shelled varieties. Hard-shelled fruits are produced by white-flowered plants (Lagenaria siceraria). Thin-shelled gourds are produced by yellow-flowered Cucurbita pepo cultivars.

Grow gourds on hills or train up fences or trellises. Provide a deeply worked, well drained soil to which you've added one heaping shovelful of compost per plant. Large gourds can take up to 140 days to mature. Youmay have to start the seeds indoors so they're ready to plant when the weather warms. Direct seed the smaller types. Place about 5 seeds in each hill and thin to one strong plant.

Gourds will flatten on the side in contact with the ground. Avoid by training the plants up a fence or trellis.

To harvest, let the gourds ripen on the vine until the stems turn brown. Then allow them to dry fully on a rack in a place with good air circulation. You'll know they're fully cured when the gourd rattles when you shake it. Then you can wax, varnish, or shellac them when they're completely dry.

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