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Consider the humble gourd. You can't eat it. Some of the are down right ugly. Most of the time you can't predict what you're going to get when you plant them. Yet, we love them. We grow them in all shapes and sizes and then we proudly display them. Sometimes we even dry, paint, glaze or otherwise preserve them to enjoy forever. How many plants can say that? And I know I say a lot of plants are easy to grow, but all you need to do for a nice harvest of gourds is to toss some old ones into your compost pile. If you're better than me about turning your compost, and prefer to grow your own gourds, this will get you started.

Photo: Marie Iannotti (2008) licensed to About.com, Inc.

Comments

October 1, 2010 at 1:40 am
(1) Lisa, Pool and Patio says:

Hi Marie:
Pretty picture. I just read somewhere today that gourds are actually fruits and not vegetables, because they have seeds, like cucumbers and watermelons. You probably knew this! Somehow I can’t picture gourd pie, gourd ice cream, or gourd-flavored candy. Do people actually eat gourds? I suppose with butter and brown sugar, they’d be tolerable…

October 1, 2010 at 6:18 am
(2) Marie Iannotti says:

Hi, Lisa. I don’t think gourd pie is going to catch on. I’m told they are pretty bitter and the aroma of a baking gourd pie is not something you’d want to fill your house with, but the seeds aren’t supposed to be bad.

Technically speaking, a fruit is the ripened ovary of a plant; the part that contains the seeds and forms at the base of the flower. So gourds, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers are all fruits. I’m not sure where things like strawberries fit in.

And to make it all the more confusing, “vegetable” is not a botanical term.

October 4, 2010 at 7:57 am
(3) Peardrops says:

That is such a wonderful idea!
I would love to have a go at making some of those gourd bird houses. I have never grown gourds before, but they sound easy enough to grow. I quite like the look of them and they would be great to use in a display. I really love anything with a rustic feel.

October 4, 2010 at 3:26 pm
(4) gardening says:

Peardrops, gourds practically grow themselves. I’m sure you’ll have more than enough to house the entire bird population in your neighborhood.

I didn’t thoroughly clean the seeds out of one of my houses and the birds who took up residence tossed them out the door. They sprouted and eventually grew up the tree I had placed the house in. I guess the birds were dropping me a subtle hint to build more houses, so their kids would have somewhere to live.

August 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm
(5) Jerr says:

You got that right! We threw our decorative gourds from last Thanksgiving in our compost pile. This Spring we tilled that compost into our new garden plot. Now. . . we have gourds all over the place. An accidental bumper crop.

What is really cool about them, apart from just producing really neat decorative gourds of all types, is that the vines climb and the leaves are HUGE. Next year I’m building a pergola over our back patio and I plan to plant these gourds purposely to grow up over it. Shade is guaranteed, but the size of the leaves makes me pretty sure we’ll be able to sit outside in the rain and not get wet!

August 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm
(6) gardening says:

I actually have friends who did just that and the vines loved it. It is so cool to seed the gourds hanging down over head. (Make sure you make the pergola tall.)

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