Gourds are lovely, odd-looking decorations. Some, like the loofas, can even be profitable. Gourd vines all share one problem, though—the mature gourd will discolor if the ripening fruit rests directly on the ground. To correct this problem, build a trellis for your gourds. Use smaller, lighter bamboo or game fence for small vines, but for larger plants, a sturdier construction will be needed. Most trellises will last several years, and materials are readily available at farm supply or garden centers.
Dig or drive four 2- to-3-foot deep post holes in the corners of a 15-by-3-foot rectangle. Drill a 1/2-inch hole about 12 inches deep into the center of each 4-inch post and pound rebar into each post. Pound four posts, rebar-end first, into the holes at the corners of the rectangle.
Attach a cattle panel between two posts on one side of the rectangle with heavy gauge wire. Drive post holes every five feet for supports and attach the panel to those posts with wire. Repeat on the second side.
Lay bamboo poles across the tops of the cattle panels to form a grid and secure them with heavy gauge wire. Set the first bamboo poles a little way in from the ends so you can get under this “roof” to harvest gourds.
Cover the trellis with deer fence or weave bamboo trelliswork. If your gourds will be very large, use heavy bamboo—the “roof” must be sturdy enough to support the vines that grow on it and bear fruit. Secure the roof with heavy gauge wire; it will support the sides and keep your trellis from collapsing under the weight of mature gourds.
Plant gourd vines about 12 inches apart (or whatever spacing is recommended for your variety) along the cattle panel sides. Train them up the sides with string or garden ties so that they grow over the top.
Things You Will Need
- Two "cattle panels" about 15 feet long and 4 1/2 feet tall
- Eight 4-inch-by-8-foot posts
- Eight 36-inch steel reinforcement bars (rebars) approximately 1/2 inch in diameter
- Heavy gauge wire
- Heavy cable or bamboo poles
- Drill with a heavy-duty 1/2-inch-by-1-foot drill bit
- Shovel or post-hole digger
- Pliers and hammer
- Sink your posts down to the frost line for your area if you want them to stand permanently. This may be as deep as three feet in some places. The rebar will sink a couple feet deeper to serve as a footing. You can buy cattle panels at farm supply or hardware stores in rural areas. Some are made of heavy wire framed in steel pipe and some are made completely of steel pipe. Grow just a few plants on fences of deer wire but be sure that the fence has extra support.
- One or two gourd vines can be grown using an adaptation of the squash "teepees" used by Native Americans. Tie three 2-by-2-inch boards together at one end and add a few rails on each side or cover each side with deer fencing for support.
- Crimp ends of wires and fencing to cover sharp points. You can't see them once the vines have covered them.