Content of the material
- Banana Gourd
- Cannon Ball Gourd
- Tips for Growing Gourds
- Harvesting and Curing Gourds
- Varieties of Gourds
- Small Types of Gourds: Apple Gourd
- Daisy Gourd
- Unique Gourd Types: Long Handle Dipper
- Turk’s Turban
- Luffa Gourds
- Familiar Gourds: Bottle Gourd
- Snake Gourds
- Crookneck Squash
- Figleaf Gourds
- Halloween Pumpkins
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see how these gourds earned their name! Shaped like their fruit namesake, these can range in size from 4 or 5 inches to upwards of 9 inches.
Cannon Ball Gourd
I love these (almost) perfectly round hard-shelled gourds. They make great containers, if you are willing to use the proper tools to safely open and clean the inside of a gourd.
Tips for Growing Gourds
You can buy mature gourds for their seeds, dry them out, and plant in the spring! Essentially, we treat them the same as winter squash.
We have grown speckled swan gourds in the past. Since they take about 120 days to grow to maturity, we started the seeds six weeks ahead indoors and transplanted them outside in the spring after danger of frost had passed.
It’s really best to prepare the soil a few months in advance with lots of rich organic matter such as compost so that the soil settles down by spring planting. If you do use a synthetic fertilizer, use a slow-release fertilizer.
Also, here’s a great tip: Powdery mildew will often settle on gourd leaves. To counteract powdery mildew, make a simply spray solution of 1 cup skim milk (ONLY skim) and 5 cups of water. Spray plants every week for 3 weeks until leaves develop.
We kept the plants covered with floating row covers for as long as we could contain them to protect them from cucumber beetles. They then began to spread.
Do not crowd gourds! They are notorious space hogs with vines that can extend out forty feet from the center of the plant.
We pulled the vines off the deer fence daily; they really wanted to climb something. They can grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet. I recommend a rugged trellis or arbor around a garden bed—think PVC pipes and netting. You can plant some other vegetables within the gourds while the gourds grow around the trellis around your bed. They are such rampant growers that they will overwhelm a flimsy structure and we thought they could easily take down our plastic mesh deer fence!
Since all gourds belong to the Cucurbit family, I was expecting our swan gourds to have squash-like flowers. Imagine my surprise when they produced huge white flowers that are not like a squash blossom at all. It seemed like we had weeks of only male blossoms before we started to see female flowers, with their tiny immature fruit at the base. I have learned that if you clip off the growing tip of the vines when they reach about ten feet long, it will encourage more female blossoms to form while keeping the plants to a more manageable size.
As with squash, you can help your gourds produce bigger, healthier fruit by pollinating their flowers by hand.
Once the fruits are set they begin to grow fast! Dipper gourds with extra-long necks can be trained to grow around a broom handle to make an interesting twisted shape or you can even tie them into a knot!
Harvesting and Curing Gourds
Ornamental gourds can be picked as soon as their stems turn brown and the tendrils next to them are dry. Luffas should be left on the vine until the stem is dry and the gourds are turning brown at both ends. The seeds will rattle inside when you shake them. Peel off the outer skin and the inner fiber should be tan and dry.
Hardshell gourds should be left in the garden to dry out. Unfortunately, any colorful patterns—like on the speckled swan gourd—will be lost when the gourd is dry.
The skin will fade and discolor and even show signs of mold. As long as the shell does not rot, it will continue to dry inside. It can take 3 to 6 months for them to dry completely, depending on how thick the shell is. Wait until the gourd is totally dry before you craft it into a birdhouse, dipper, or whatever else you decide to make.
Our talented friend Camille transformed this gourd using decoupage and paint!
Here is another gourd from a farmers’ market that was made into a birdhouse. They’re wonderful as homes for purple martins and other birds.
The possibilities are endless so next year give gourdgeous gourds a try!
Varieties of Gourds
There are many exciting and unusual gourds in the world. Take a look at this list of some of our favorites that are simple to grow at home. Follow these strategies for butternut squash planting tips, too, as they have similar requirements.
Small Types of Gourds: Apple Gourd
If you cross an apple and a pumpkin, you have an Apple gourd. Apple gourds are also called Lagenaria siceraria and are the exact shape of the fruits we all know and love, only larger.
They have a striking green color with lighter flecks throughout the rind. These are not an edible cultivar. However, it is ideal for many arts and crafts, and people enjoy making bowls from them. As these gourds dry, they turn from green to yellowish-brown.
Apple gourds spread up to 140 inches, and they mature in about 120 days. Give them full sunlight and plenty of space since each fruit is six to eight inches tall and four inches wide. Gardeners prefer to start this heirloom cultivar by sowing seeds in the late spring.
The Daisy gourds, or C. pepo, are cucurbits with a flower shape when you look at them from above. They look slightly similar to acorn squash.
Cucurbita pepo is a common gourd species and is what you most likely see when browsing at a grocery store during the fall. They are very colorful and produce high yields in shades of yellow, green, and orange.
These gourds are of a smaller size, reaching three inches across and two inches tall. They grow on trailing vines and require a trellis, fence, or arbor for stability. Daisy gourds are the fastest to mature in about 91 to 98 days.
Unique Gourd Types: Long Handle Dipper
A more uncommon variety of gourds is the dipper gourd. It has an extra-long handle with a small bulbous body on the end. Most of these plants have curved handles, but it’s possible to train them to hang and grow straight down.
Use these gourds for making attractive fall and winter décor. The fruits are about two to three feet long and mature in about 130 days in full sun.
Turk’s Turban gourds, called C. maxima, look like two gourds in one. The bottom half is more prominent and a more solid color, while another lump that looks like a hat or turban sits on top with streaks of red, orange, and green.
It’s almost like a giant pumpkin is consuming a smaller one. This variety weighs up to seven pounds and matures in 95 days. These gourds are popular for both their strange look and delicious flavor.
tb12343 pounds turban squash1 pound pork sausage1 cup chopped celery½ cup sliced mushrooms¼ cup chopped onion½ cup sour cream¼ cup grated Parmesan1 beaten egg¼ teaspoon salttb1234
Heat your kitchen oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut off the top of the squash and scoop out the seeds. Lightly salt the inside of the fruit and place it cut side down on the lined baking sheet.
Bake the Turban squash for about one hour or until it is tender. While the squash bakes, cook the sausage, mushrooms, onion, and celery in a skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes or until everything is tender. Drain the excess grease from the pan.
Stir the cheese, sour cream, egg, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Dump and stir the sour cream mixture into the pan of sausage and veggies. Scoop the flesh of the squash out without tearing the outer rind and mash it in a bowl.
Spoon some of the sausage mix into the hollowed squash rind, then add a layer of mashed squash. Repeat this process until everything is used. Bake the stuffed Turban squash in the oven for another 25 minutes and serve.
Luffa aegyptiaca, otherwise called the sponge gourd, might sound a little familiar because they are used to make the bath sponge loofah that we all love. When left to mature, these crops dry out, and the outer shell is scraped off.
What’s left is the inside fibers with a scrubby texture. Luffa gourds have ridged rinds and are a light green color. Some are skinny and long. Others are fat and short. These gourds need a long time to ripen. Plan for at least 150 to 200 days for them to fully mature.
Familiar Gourds: Bottle Gourd
Commonly used as a drinking vessel for centuries, the bottle gourd, also called the calabash gourd, is an edible variety with a lot of uses. Their white flowers are beautiful before they bloom and start fruiting.
The hard shells last for several years and were cultivated for over 5,000 years. These fruits have a mild flavor and color that is similar to butternut squash.
As they age, there are two bulbous areas that look like two balls sitting on top of one another. The skin is light green while still on the plant and turns tan as it dries.
tb12341 cup grated bottle gourd½ cup flour1 teaspoon red chili powder1 teaspoon turmeric½ teaspoon cumin seedsSaltOiltb1234
Grate the inner flesh of the bottle gourd and squeeze out the excess water. Fill a medium pan about halfway full with frying oil. Heat the oil to 350°F. Add the shredded gourd to a large mixing bowl with the flour, chili, turmeric, cumin, and salt to taste.
Use clean hands to form small patties, and then carefully drop a few into the hot oil until the fritters are medium brown on both sides.
Set the hot fritters onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Work in batches until all the gourd patties are cooked. Serve the fritters with ketchup or gravy dipping sauces.
You wouldn’t guess that the snake gourd is closely related to pumpkins based on its incredibly long and skinny shape.
This is an eccentric fruit that is edible when it is still young. Once they mature, these gourds are dried and turned into musical instruments called didgeridoos.
The flowers on this gourd plant open at night and emit a strong scent that allows them to be pollinated by moths.
tb12341/3 cup yellow lentils2 cups snake gourd1 green chili½ teaspoon crushed ginger3 sliced garlic cloves1¼ cups water2 dry red chilis¼ teaspoon mustard seeds½ teaspoon cumin seeds2 teaspoons oilCilantro leaves for garnishingSalttb1234
Wash the lentils in water until clean. Peel the snake gourd and cut it vertically into two pieces. Remove the inner seeds and then cut them into thin half-rounds. Cut the green chili in half.
Place the lentils and snake gourd in a pressure cooker with the ginger, garlic, turmeric, and salt to taste. Add the water and pressure cook everything for about 20 minutes before releasing the pressure and setting the pot aside.
Heat the frying oil in a big pot and toast the mustard seeds when the oil is hot. When the seeds start to open, add the cumin seeds, green chilis, and red chilis.
Add the cooked snake gourd and pour in some extra water if the mixture is too thick. Wait for the dish to come to a boil and cook it for five minutes. Pour everything into a large serving dish and garnish it with chopped cilantro leaves.
Crookneck squash is another of the heirloom gourd types. These common plants are probably one of the easiest to grow and fastest to mature. It only takes 53 days before these crops are ready for harvesting.
If you plan to eat them, harvest them while the rind is still soft. The fruits reach six inches long. They have a heavier bottom and skinny, crooked neck that turns on top.
Don’t worry about these taking up too much garden space. The entire plant is only three feet wide and two feet tall.
The figleaf gourd is another fruit with an oblong shape that reaches up to nine inches in length. A single plant produces up to 50 fruits, and they are notorious for their long storage life. The growing requirements of these plants are similar to melons.
They also show a lot more tolerance to pests and diseases than some of their other closer relatives. Even as mature plants, the flesh has a sweet flavor used in many drinks and beverages.
Last but not least is one of the most popular gourds. The field pumpkin is something that almost anyone recognizes, and they have become the American symbol for fall and Halloween.
Depending on the cultivars, the different pumpkin types are either extremely tiny or impressively large. The world record for the heaviest gourd pumpkin was grown in Belgium and weighed over 2,624 pounds.
tb12345-pound pie pumpkinSalttb1234
Heat your oven to 375°F before slicing the pumpkin in half and scooping out the seeds and strings. Sprinkle a very small dusting of salt on the pieces. Place each gourd half cut-side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil.
Cook the pumpkin for one hour or until it is tender, and then remove it from the oven and let it cool. Scrape the fruity flesh away from the skin and put it in a blender. Blend the pumpkin until smooth all the way throughout.
Gourd decorations are the epitome of fall, yet there is much more that you can do with them that you may not have experienced.
Even though they look a little scary sometimes, these are a great crop to grow in your garden and create something more unique than you can with regular crops like tomatoes and cucumbers.
If this list of the different types of gourds has opened your eyes to all the cultivars, share this article full of various gourd types on Facebook and Pinterest.