The sooner you start planting, the better! "Bottle Gourds," or "Birdhouse Gourds" need a long growing season- about six months and then a few months more to dry and to cure them! Gourds can be used for many crafts. They can be carved into succulents and teacups or transformed into birdhouses, useful tools, whimsical sculptures, and anything you can imagine!
We start with seeds! If you live in a mild winter climate as we do, sow “Bottle Gourd” seeds in the ground when temperatures are over 65 degrees. Everyone else can start the “Bottle Gourd” seeds indoors in peat pots 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. First, prepare your gourd seeds for planting 24-hours before.
- Clip one tip of the seed so it can take in water and soak it overnight in water.
- Fill a peat pot with seed starting mix. A peat pot is best because you can plant it into the ground once the temperatures warm up outdoors.
- Place 2 seeds in the pot, cover with 1"inch of soil and water gently.
- Place the pot on a warm appliance or use a seed starting mat and cover with plastic.
- The seed will germinate after 10 days and continue growing.
After the plants have been growing for a couple of weeks, it is time to plant them in the ground.
If you live in a cold climate, plant them when there is no more frost and the soil has started to warm up.
- Choose a spot in your garden with all-day direct sunlight.
- Space your plants 5 feet apart because they will sprawl!
- Although gourds can grow on the ground, I recommend a trellis that they can grow up. I planted in a 6-foot raised garden bed so we can plant one bottle gourd on each end.
Don’t remove plants from their peat pots.
• The Pot will naturally decompose in the ground. “Bottle Gourds” don't like to have their roots disturbed!
• Dig a hole into a raised "hill" like this one I created. It's about 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
• Place the pot into the ground and cover with soil. WATER.
TIP: Avoid disturbing the roots; Peat Pots will naturally decompose
The “Bottle Gourd” Will Attach Itself the Trellis. You don't have to tie the plant to the trellis, it will do it on its own. All you do is provide the support.
For people in mild climates, you can start the seeds right in the ground.
- When temperatures are over 65 degrees, sow 5 pre-soaked seeds in a mound of soil like the one we just planted
- Cover with 1 inch of soil and water. As the seedlings grow, thin out the plants to just 2 on each hill.
- Space each hill 5 feet apart
Each Bottle Gourd can grow vines that stretch 10 to 100 feet depending on the variety, growing conditions and the length of growing season. Each plant grows 3 Gourds.
Check the seed package to find out when you should harvest them. The average is 150 days at which time the leaves on the vine will become brown. The gourds will turn from green to a tan color and as they dry, they will become less heavy
If you experience heavy frosts, use pruners to cut the gourd from the vine, leaving a 2-inch stem attached. Do not yank the gourd off the vine!
- Place the bottle gourd in a patio where there is good air circulation and let it dry naturally. Turn the gourd over every few weeks.
- In mild climates, allow the gourds to dry on the vine for a few months.
- Once the gourd is dried, (it will become very lightweight) you can paint it, cut it, and create your birdhouse or another masterpiece!
TIP: Turn the Gourd every three weeks
Shirley Bovshow, Gardening Expert, FoodieGardener.com
Shirley Bovshow's EdenMakers