Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Growing Bottle Gourds

Bottle gourds are a plant of many names, but go by the botanical name of Lagenaria siceraria. It is an easy to grow annual vine which does well in warm climates. The seeds of this plant should be grown during the early spring, with plenty of space and something to grow on such as a fence or a structure with wire.

Watering of this plant will need to be daily. Gourds will develop large leaves and white flowers, coming in both male and female form. The flowers typically open at night and is pollinated by insects at that time, but if no insects are around it is possible to pollinate the female flowers to allow fruiting to begin. The male flowers have long peduncles while females have short ones.  

Flowering itself typically starts after 60-70 days and fruiting takes up to 100-180 days. If eating of the fruit is wanted, it needs to be done while the gourds are green, before they stop growing and turn white. The gourds will eventually gain mould after turning white, which is where the drying process begins. The plant will eventually have all its leaves also die, but its vines and stems stay intact allowing gourds to dry naturally.
Gourds need to be in a well ventilated area when drying, preferably outdoors still attached to the plant for higher chance of success when drying. Drying is completed upon when a rattling noise is heard when the gourd is given a shake.
When cutting the dried gourd open, it will be messy and it suggested to be done outside to avoid making a mess indoors. Upon opening the gourd, seeds will be what’s left along with dust.
Disease and pests aren’t much of a problem. Plant lice, red pumpkin beetle and caterpillars can be annoying pests, but can easily be dealt with.

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