How to grow good gourds
Gourds are easy to grow, but you’ll need plenty of room to accommodate the vines as they can reach up to 4m in length. They grow best in a sunny spot in fertile soil. Select a growing position that receives at least six hours of direct sun each day. Add 5-10cm of organic matter to the soil prior to planting.
“Trellis, fence or frame may be needed to support vigorous vines if you are not spreading them along the ground,” says Karen May of Kings Seeds.
Sow seeds after all danger of frost has passed in spring.
“Fruit takes 120 days to mature so if you have frosts, consider starting seedlings indoors,” says Karen. “Though transplanted seedlings may sulk for up to two weeks.”
Seeds can be planted in rows or hills. If planting several vines, sow seeds in rows that are 2.5m apart. To plant on hills, create mounds of soil 15cm high and 30cm across. Space the mounds 1.5m apart. Poke four seeds 2-3cm deep into the top of the hill, spacing them 10cm apart. These can be thinned later to the best growing seedlings.
Your vines can be left to meander across the soil, but you can have trouble with rotting fruit. To avoid this, you can place organic material like cardboard or newspaper underneath each gourd to prevent it from laying on the soil. Adequate watering is essential. “Water seedlings in the morning around the roots, keeping the leaves dry,” says Karen. “Decrease watering in early autumn to allow the gourds to start to harden off.”
Smaller gourds can be grown in containers but they still require room to spread and climb.
Apply a side dressing of compost or a balanced fertiliser once the seedlings have reached 20cm high. This is sufficient food for the growing season. Apply a layer of mulch too, to prevent weed growth and to help retain moisture in the soil. Water during dry times.