Friday, February 4, 2011

Grow Gourds for a Unique Difference

This spring as you are planning your garden, include gourds. They are interesting and are a guaranteed conversation starter. There are many varieties to try.  After the vines have died and the weather is cool, bring your gourds to your shop for added autumn appeal.

Plant your gourd seeds after all danger of frost are over. They do need a long growing season so get them in the ground as soon as you can or start the seeds indoors about four weeks before you are to plant outside. Be sure to plant in a sunny location as they are heat loving plants. Gourds love to have a trellis or a fence to climb onto.  If you have an unsightly chain link fence or if you wish the fence was more natural in look, plant gourds to grow on the fence. They will entirely cover it and create a natural barrier.  

Gourds are related to the melon, squash, cucumber, pumpkin family. Gourds have been grown for centuries as utilitarian vessels, such as ladles and bowls, for ornamental purposes, such as birdhouses, and for cosmetic uses.  There are two main kinds of gourds to grow. They are Cucurbita or soft-skinned gourds and Lagenaria or hard-skinned gourds.

The soft-skinned gourds must be harvested before frost. Any sign of frost will turn them to mush. Cucurbita gourds are the gourds we use for decorations. They look like small squash. These gourds come in many shapes and sizes. These would be the gourds that we might see spilling out of a cornucopia in a fall display. Also, you can take them and turn them into a fresh flower container by hollowing out the gourd and inserting floral foam. Use oak leaves and cattails, along with hardy, long lasting mums and daisies for a distinctive floral design for autumn.

The second type of gourd is the hard-skinned utilitarian type. This gourd will mature on the vine well past frost and be okay, although it is best to harvest before frost and dry in a warm dark area. The gourd will eventually turn from green to tan and mottled browns.  Once the gourd is very light and rattles when shook, the seeds inside, then it is dried and can be prepared for its intended use. The lageneria gourd is what is used to make birdhouses and long handled dippers and vessels. This is also from where the luffa sponge comes. The gourd fiber inside is dried and it becomes an exfoliating luffa sponge. The shapes of this type of ornamentals can be very exceptional and fascinating. 

Gourds will add a captivating experience for your floral customers.  Create an autumn dried flower decoration in one. Maybe you can find someone to hand paint them. They can be customized for any area as a great souvenir.  Paint the ocean, the mountains, or the desert. Hand sign and number each for a collectible. The possibilities with gourds are endless and will add class to the floral shop. 

Gourds in Your Garden: A Guidebook for the Home Gardener 

Snake Gourd 5 Seeds - Grow your own slippery snake! 

Gourds in Your Garden, A Guidebook for the Home Gardener - 1998 publication 

Luffa Bathroom Sponge 10 Seeds - Gourds! 

Decorative Painted Gourd 

Pkg of 12 Artificial Decorative Fall Pumpkins and Gourds 

Decorative Carved Gourd Rattle fron KenyaDecorative Carved Gourd Rattle fron Kenya 
Set of 3 Distinctive Pumpkin and Gourd Decorative Pillows 13" 

Set of 3 Colorful Rustic Country Kitchen Decorative Ceramic Gourds

Creative Gourds (13 Projects to Paint on Gourds Using FolkArt Acrylics and Artist's Pigments, Decorative Painting #9756) 

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