These gourds may not be edible, but they're ever so useful.
E-mail This Page to Your Friendsx
A link to %this page% was e-mailed
These unique plants take a long time to mature, they're susceptible to many pests and diseases, and you'll never hear the words gourmet and gourd in the same sentence. So why grow gourds?
"They're wonderful," says gourd enthusiast Judy Lawrence. "They're native to all continents and all societies, there's evidence of gourd seeds from 10,000 BC, and they're just cool." Judy shares tips for growing and preserving gourds with master gardener Paul James:
Historically, hard-shelled gourds have been fashioned into all kinds of functional items like water containers, baskets and even musical instruments. Ornamental gourds are just as distinctive, and so are the rather enthusiastic growth habits of both varieties.
Gourds can cultivate vines up to 100 feet tall and climb just about anything that's in their way. "They grow like rampant zucchini on steroids," says Lawrence. Trellising is a great way to grow gourds. Besides enhancing air circulation and minimizing insect damage, it's a great way to display the fruit.
But there are benefits to a ground patch, as well. "If you're growing a long neck gourd that you want nicely formed," says Lawrence, "then you want to trellis. But if you want nature to take its course, then you can grow gourds on the ground."
Either way, by the end of the season, aphids can suck the life out of a gourd plant. Lawrence's defense is a creative offense; by inter-planting plants that will attract aphid-eating bugs, Judy stops the hungry aphids before they have a chance to harm her gourds.
One of the nice things about gourds is that you can leave them on the vine until the first frost has arrived before harvesting. Harvest a gourd when the first 4 inches of the stem is dry. If you cut it while it's green, it may collapse during the drying process.
A devoted art collector, Julie Mitchik has decorated her entire house except for the combination living and dining room. Which...