How to grow good gourds

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Home-grown, Hand-made -

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.

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