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Growing gourds is fun and there are so many things you can do with them. We grow bushel gourds, birdhouse gourds, and luffa gourds every year. But there are so many other fun gourds to explore as well. Check out this month by month garden planting guide for times to grow.
How to Grow Gourds
Most gourds grow in Hardiness Zones: 3-10. They aren’t super particular, they will grow in sandy soil, clay soil, or loam. Check here for the dirty secrets to soil success. They prefer a PH of 6-7.5 and must have well drained soil. Check out gardening for beginners here.
Gourds need at least 6 hours of full sun a day, 8 is better.
Plant your gourd seeds 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Then harden them off for a week before transplanting. Make sure all danger of frost is passed and the plants have at least 4-5 leaves on each plant. Be careful with their roots, they can be finicky.
If you live in zone 6 or higher, you can probably direct sow them in the ground and still have enough time for harvest by the end of your season. In the past few years, it’s been a lot harder to determine weather patterns, so you never know what will work until you try it.
Gourd plants should be spaced 5 feet apart and planted with a really sturdy trellis. They grow strong and long vines, so make sure it’s strong. We use our chain link fence to grow ours.
Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep. And water deeply once a week.
Check the different types of gourds linked below to see when to harvest and how to know they are ready.
Gourds can be planted in containers if you have one near a big sturdy trellis. It needs to be a large container at least 24 inches in width and depth.
The only problem we’ve ever had growing gourds was with squash bugs. So watch for that. We like to plant squash as a trap crop because we have gazillions of squash bugs and we don’t spray seven on them.
Great companion plants for gourds include:
How Many Gourds Grow on One Plant
How many gourds you’ll get on your plants will differ by kind, but it’s usually quite a few. We’ve grown up to 50 luffas on one vine and up to 20 of some of the others. And our biggest secret is neglect. They are hardy plants and just about anyone can grow them.
What to Do with Gourds
There are so many things you can do with gourds. If you grow luffas, (my preschoolers sell luffa seeds here from their preschool garden to raise money for more seeds and plants) there are a million uses. From bath sponge to dishwashing and more. Check out ways to use luffas here.
If you grow hard shell gourds such as bird house gourds and bushel gourds (little sprouts grow seeds for the big hardshell gourds here) you can make them into bowls, birdhouses, plates, there are so many creative things that can be done with these kinds of gourds. They can be painted or carved into amazing masterpieces. On Etsy, there are pure works of art made with them. So if you are artistic or crafty like that, give that a try.
Chinese python snake bean gourds and luffa gourds are edible. There are other kinds of edible gourds as well, but those are the ones we have tried. Both taste pretty good. Luffas, when eaten young, taste like a cross between a cucumber and zucchini. I would say the snake beans taste more like zucchini, but have a flavor all of their own. They can both be eaten cooked or raw.
Bird House Gourds
Growing birdhouse gourds is easy and really fun. Even kids can make cute bird houses out of them. They are not picky, and the vines are pretty too.
Bushel gourds are really cool and really easy to grow. Ours didn’t grow as big as a bushel basket, but they did grow a really cool shape and will be fun to make things out of. The vines look really similar to birdhouse gourds and growing them was very similar.
Luffas are our favorites! We grow them as much as we can. We love to use them for many different things. And we sell them too. If you just try one gourd, I hope you try to grow luffas! They have gorgeous flowers, pretty vines, and are so interesting. My kids love growing luffas.
Chinese Python Snake Beans
Chinese python snake beans are definitely the most interesting gourd we’ve ever grown. They have a really interesting smell when you touch them. They are nutritious and yummy. The flowers are GORGEOUS like nothing I’ve ever seen! They seem so fancy and tropical.
Nothing bothers the vines, they are pretty vines. The fruit is actually a little scary. They look exactly like a snake. They are different than what most people call snake beans. You have to try to grow Chinese python snake beans for yourself.
I hope you will give hobby gourd growing a try in your garden. You’re going to love growing gourds too!