Cities across the nation get pumped about pumpkin season – so why not try growing your own gourds in your garden? It’s a great way to add beauty, color and style to your home. The fall season is prime time to harvest gourd varieties to use for decorations and even household tools. Pumpkin, squash and other gourds are an easy option for new gardeners and we’ll show you how to grow a gourd harvest year after year with this guide to growing gourds.
There are three different types of gourds that you can plant in your garden: ornamental, hard-shell and luffa.
Ornamental gourds are the small gourds that you see used in many fall decorations. They are quite colorful and come in variations of yellow, orange, red, white and green. Ornamental gourds are related to summer squash, pumpkins and some winter squash varieties.
These gourds attract attention due to their long and unique shapes. Hard-shell gourds have been grown in gardens for centuries due to their ability to become a useful tool, like a cup or bowl, once adequately dried. Immature hard-shell gourds are also edible.
These gourds resemble a cucumber in their sponge-like personal appearance. They are commonly used as bath sponges after the outer shell is dried and removed to reveal the inner fiber of the plant.
For best practice, sow seeds directly into the ground when the final frost arrives in the spring. Plant gourd seeds in a sunny spot in the garden that has well-drained soil. Plant clusters of four seeds about 1-2 inches deep into the soil to form a group. Each group of seeds should be about five feet apart for the plant to have enough room to mature. Thin the seeds to 2-3 plants per group once the leaves appear.
Other Growing Tips
Gourds can grow well on supports or trellises. Plant them along a fence or arbor to encourage gourds to rise off the ground. Be aware of pests, like deer that may eat them right off the fence. Try growing hard-shell dipper gourds that can be trained to grow around a pole or broom handle.
Gourds need very little attention once established in the garden. They may need to be watered more during dry periods of the summer. Keep an eye on them to make sure that each plant has enough room to spread out and grow. Consider thinning those plants that aren’t doing well to give the stronger plants a chance to grow.
Insects & Disease
Thanks to their hard-outer shell, most gourds aren’t bothered by insects and diseases. Smaller ornamental varieties may see more bug damage due to their thinner shells.
Small ornamental gourds begin to show their bright colors once fall arrives. You’ll know they are ready to pick when their shell becomes hard to the touch and their stems turn brown. Luffas are ready to harvest when the stem is dry and the gourd is brown at both ends. Harvest hard-shell gourds last to help them dry out. Be sure to pick them before the first frost arrives in your area.
Gourds are an excellent option for beginner gardeners who want to grow something hearty that won’t fall to insects or disease. Try growing them along supports to save room in the garden and follow these tips when choosing to grow gourds in your backyard garden.
Katie Marie is a writer, avid yogi, and outdoor explorer. She spends most of her time practicing meditation and wellness using organic elements within nature.