Unlike their close relatives in the squash family, gourds are grown not as an edible vegetable but as an ornamental or utilitarian plant. Some varieties of gourds are used for birdhouses or baskets, while others are painted or carved for display. Growing gourds in the home garden allows you to choose from a variety of gourd types to fit your needs. Starting the seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last spring frost gives the gourds the long warm season they require to thrive.
Fill a bowl with lukewarm water. Soak the gourd seeds overnight to soften the seed hulls and speed germination.
Fill peat seed pots with potting mix. Peat pots are preferable as they can be planted directly in the garden bed without disturbing the gourd seedlings' roots.
Sow two seeds per peat pot. Plant them to a depth equal to 1.5 times the seeds' width. Water the soil until it is evenly moist throughout.
Cover the pots with a plastic bag, which holds in moisture while the seeds are germinating. Place in a warm room to germinate. Germination takes between one to six weeks, depending on variety. Check the seed envelope for specifics.
Remove the plastic bag once seedlings emerge. Move the pots to an area that receives full sunlight and keep the soil moist.
Thin each pot to a single plant once the gourd seedlings produce their second set of leaves. Pluck out the weaker of the two plants and leave the stronger one in the pot.
Transplant gourd seedlings outside to a well-draining garden bed once all danger of frost is past and plants are approximately 4 inches tall.
Things You Will Need
- Peat pots
- Potting soil
- Plastic bag
- Gourds seeds can also be started directly in the garden, but because they require up to 180 days to mature, this should only be done in areas with long and hot summers.
- Gourds germination rate is often poor. Plant extra seeds to ensure you have the amount of seedlings desired for your garden.
- Gourds easily cross pollinate. Plant only one variety at a time to prevent this.
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