Finger Lakes destination
We start the seeds indoors in pots in late April.
They need lights to grow well. We harden them off throughout May.
We put them out around Memorial Day, under row-cover bonnets, for extra warmth and protection from cucumber beetles. We give them plenty of space!
The vines take off like crazy... you can almost watch them grow.
Tendrils are amazingly strong, and we use them to encourage the vines upwards.
Unlike other cucurbits, gourd blossoms bloom at night. We hand-pollinate sometimes. This is a female blossom, pollinated.
Each female blossom has a mini version of the fruit that will grow. These tiny fuzzy baby gourds are called "pepos".
"Legendary" bottle gourds, lurking beneath the luscious leaf canopy.
Mid August, all is green. The small gourd pictured is a "Sub-mini", never gets any bigger than that.
The weight of the ball pulls these dipper gourds straight. When they grow on the ground, they are curly.
In September the vines start to die away. We leave the gourds on the vine as long as there is any life in the plant.
As the water leaves the gourd, the skin starts to mold. Inexperienced gourd growers sometimes panic at this stage. Don't worry! If it had plenty of time to mature, it won't rot. The mold will leave beautiful marks on the surface of the gourd.
Gourds can stay out all winter long, they'll dry just fine. Mice might get into a few of the weaker ones. Don't bring them in your house at this stage!
Banana gourds, all dried and ready to be washed!
You can plant the seeds, but if they grew near different gourds, the offspring will be hybrids.
We grow many varieties of gourds at Gourdlandia, with interesting names: Mini Chinese Bottle, Sennari, Tobacco Box, Four Inch Round, Extra Long-Handled Dipper, 100 Plus, etc. We also buy some from Amish gourd farmers in southern Pennsylvania.
The photo captions here contain
growing tips. You can get more information from the American Gourd Society.
Want to get your gourds off to a great start? Graham will be teaching a class through Atlas Obscura this Spring! Gourds Gone Wild: Growing and Crafting Gourds with Gourdlandia. Four sessions, Wednesday evenings starting 4/26/23. Please join us!
Seeds! I've got seeds! Want some?
My seeds are organic, but not certified. Tested for germination, but not extensively. These are seeds from gourds that I've hand-pollinated and isolated to prevent cross-pollination. They should be "true", but maybe not always... just to keep you on your toes!
Note: Smaller gourds are easier to grow. A good selection of seeds from gourds of all sizes can be found at some of my favorite seed sources:
If you've never grown gourds before, I highly recommend you read the growing tips in the slideshow above, and seed-starting tips here, before sending for seeds. Gourds require LOTS of space, good rich soil, and as much time on the vine as possible. Gourds look nasty and moldy when they're drying... DON'T THROW THEM AWAY!!!
Still want some?
This is how it works: I don't sell them, I give them away.
Note: I'll start sending seeds in late March. Envelopes received before then will be safely stored until then. Envelopes received after 4/14/23 will be safely saved until Spring 2024!
Send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, regular business size is best, with a note saying which seeds you'd like; choose 2 or three types (see below). I'll send your envelope back with seeds! Just a few, because I want lots of people to get some. My address can be found here.
Seeds Available Spring 2023:
Hawaiian Dance Mask
The top of this gourd is sometimes straight (photo on left), and sometimes rounded (right), almost like a small African Wine Kettle. In either case, they are thick and beautiful! We'll grow these on the ground this year, as we lost several when they fell from the trellis prematurely.
It's big, it's splendid, it's a bushel gourd! About a foot in diameter, with a nice little nose on the top. Each plant produces 3 or more big beautiful gourds, if treated with all due respect.
This is my favorite. Smaller than the bushel. I just can't get over that sweet little hook at the top, which only happens if they're grown on the ground. If they hang, the neck will be straight (see photo at right). The shell is of medium thickness, and quite dense.
Very Nice Thick Gourd
Nice, but not particularly true. Meaning, you might get another shape, but it will definitely be nice. And probably pretty thick.
We have lots seeds from more-or-less pear-shaped gourds this year!
Dippers are so versatile! If they hang while they grow, the weight of the ball will pull them straight. If grown on the ground, they'll have lovely graceful curves. What will you make with yours?
The balls on these dippers will be elongated, like the photo on the left.
Miscellaneous Bottle Gourd
It's not an Indonesian bottle, nor is it a Chinese Bottle. It's just a random bottle gourd, with a bit of a bowling-pin shape. About 10-12" tall. You know these are not rotting, right?? The skin gets moldy as they dry.
Copper Canyon Canteen
Aka Old Reliable, in my book. Given plenty of space, this plant will produce lots of beautiful, uniform 6-8" egg-shaped gourds. Such a nice plant.
Aim for healthy dark green compact seedlings, like that happy one on the right.
This bountiful plant will produce dozens of little cuties! At the same time, it might attract more cucumber beetles than any other cucurbit in your garden. Trap crop?