Ob­jects of art

Go Gardening - - Edibles -

Cu­cur­bits grown not so much for food but for their good looks and use­ful­ness are called gourds. Like pump­kins and squash, they grow on a vine over sum­mer to pro­duce an au­tumn crop of fruit. There are two main types of gourds grown in gar­dens. The Cu­cur­bita pepo var. ov­ifera group are the most closely re­lated to pump­kins, pro­duc­ing a range of cu­ri­ously shaped and highly colour­ful hard skinned fruits that will last as colour­ful in­door dec­o­ra­tion for many months. They can then be com­posted and their seed used for a crop the fol­low­ing year. The fun is in the va­ri­ety of plants and fruits pro­duced.

The sec­ond type are ‘bot­tle gourds’, be­long­ing to the species La­ge­naria sicer­aria. These hard shelled gourds can be dried and cured over win­ter to be crafted into ob­jects that will last in­def­i­nitely. For thou­sands of years they’ve been used as bot­tles, bowls, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, tools and art­works, dec­o­rated by scrap­ing, cut­ting or burn­ing images onto them. Fun to grow and paint, gourds are made into all man­ner of crafty ob­jects in­clud­ing lamp shades, bird feed­ers and plant hang­ers, as a quick visit to pin­ter­est.com will re­veal.

Gourds are grown in the same way as pump­kins and can be sown in pots or straight into the soil in early sum­mer. Ideally, place sev­eral seeds in a mound or a mounded row and then re­move the weak­est grow­ing plants. They will sprawl across the ground, but will also grow up a fence which helps keep them clean and dry. Har­vest gourds as late as pos­si­ble in au­tumn, but be­fore frost.

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