Plant gourds if for no other reason than because they're fun. They come in a delightful, wacky array of shapes, colors, and sizes and are sure to bring a smile when you harvest them. Some gourds are used for functional items or to eat, but all of these fast, easy growers are great project go do to with kids. Many will grow up fences and trellises, which makes them even more interesting and dramatic.
The term gourd is a catch-all for several closely related plants. Hard-shelled gourds are also called birdhouse gourds, bottle gourds, or dipper gourds. Immature fruits and vines are used as a vegetable, known as calabash. The interior flesh of the mature luffa gourd has long been used as a bath sponge. It is sometimes eaten as a vegetable when immature. Soft-shelled gourds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are used only decoratively.
- Plant Type:
- Plant Height:
- 1-12 feet tall
- Plant Width:
- 1-4 feet wide
Harvest ornamental and hard-shell gourds when vines begin to dry and the shell has hardened, leaving 1 to 2 inches of stem attached. Wash dirt off the fruit surface, then cure the shell by storing in a warm, dry location for one to two weeks. Continue curing the gourds until the interior dries also. This will take several weeks for ornamental gourds and up to six months for hard-shell gourds. Discard any that begin to mold or rot. Harvest luffa gourds when the fruit is lightweight and seeds rattle inside. After drying cut off the stem end and shake out the seeds. Remove the skin, and bleach the spongy flesh in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Rinse and dry before using as a sponge.
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