The Seed That Grew Birdhouse Gourds
– Lots Of Them!
Gourds are easy to grow. And besides being easy (which makes them a candidate for growing in a children’s garden), there are lots of things that you can do with them if you love to craft and decorate.
The main thing that a gourd plant needs is SPACE.
If you have limited space, no worries mate, vertical gardening can be an ideal way to grow all the gourds you could desire.
I decided to grow one specific kind, the birdhouse form Lagenaria, during one growing season. It turned out to be so fruitful that I ended up with enough dried gourds for years of decorating (maybe you won’t take as long to finish your projects, but the harvest was great). If it is before June, in Zone 6 and lower, you have time to grow your own from seed. Or make your plan for next growing season.
What can you find on this page?
- How to grow gourds
- Vertical Gardening ideas for saving space
- Craft ideas for the gourds you grow
If you are interested in growing gourds and turning them into fun projects like gourd art, birdhouses, or even musical instruments are on the final leg of the gourd discovery tour at the bottom of the page.
How To Grow Gourds
A Very Simple Plant To Grow, Ideal For A Beginner
Factsheet for Growing and Curing Many Types
- You can start the seeds indoors if you like.
- I started mine directly in the garden, planting according to directions on the packet.
- Plant 2 feet apart in the row, with rows 5 feet apart
- Water regularly, like for tomatoes
- Use 10-10-10 or 10-6-4 fertilizer once plants take off.
- Harvest before frost
Keep in mind that these plants are warm weather plants which should not be planted out before the last frost. They will grow best when the soils are warm.
Humid, hot days and warm nights suit the gourd family just fine, but they can be subject to some diseases and pests.
Mosaic Virus and Powdery Mildew are two of the worst, most prevalent of the diseases they can get, and those problems can kill a crop.
With Mosaic, which is a plant virus, but be sure the mottled foliage is not from an application of insecticide, which can mimic the problem.
Prevent Powdery Mildew by using the vertical garden methods which will increase air circulation. (Mildews are promoted by stagnant, close conditions).
Hand pollination can improve fruit set.
Ready To Try Growing Some Amazing Varieties?
Gourds, Vining, “Bath Loofah” – Heirloom
Renee’s is a reputable seed house company that many gardener’s rely on. I love the selections and have always had good reults, so I am very confident in recommending you buy your seeds from Renee.This packet will provide you with a selection of shapes that you may use in traditional ways or as a canvas for art projects that can be anything you imagine.
This is the perfect plant for a child’s garden because it is easy, and provides fun projects that kids love. The large plants are exciting to watch grow and gives a real feeling of accomplishment come harvest time.
Other ideas for creating a Child’s Garden.
Growing Gourds For Crafts
Why Vertical Gardening Works For You
Cucurbit plants (cucumber and melons included) take up a lot of space, and you may want to plan for that at the outset.
If you do not wish to allow lots of garden space for gourds, consider vertical garden ideas. One of the best things about vertical gardening, besides its space saving feature, is the way the produce is at eye and picking level, as well as kept clean.
Get your vertical support ready before you plant the seeds.
Easy Vertical Garden Ideas
As you can see- a trellis is good for tomatoes, too.
4′ x 8′ Cedar Raised Garden Bed with Irrigation System and Optional Trellis
Consider using vertical growing ideas not only to save space, but to keep the fruits from damage. In English vegetable gardens it is not unusual to see netted cradles holding the cucurbits, no matter what variety they are. I think those nets are more practical for heavier fruits such as melons, but have seen them used for courgettes.
I grew the Lagenaria on the ground because I wasn’t prepared for the spread of these plants. Just a few plants took over the entire vegetable garden that year, so I would definitely recommend using a trellis or support of some kind to grow the vines upward.
While the frame and trellis outfits work extremely well, if you have a fence, especially chain link, you can use that to support the vines. Netting strung between sturdy posts would also work.
The Many Forms of Gourd Fruits
Use the following charts to see the wide range of types that you can plant and use for many different purposes. All may be grown in vertical ways, or if you have the room, along the ground.
Digital Gourds chart © Dan Dunkin 2003
This chart is used courtesy The Gourd Reserve
Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Getting a head start on the season
Many people like to start the Cucurbit family indoors. What is this plant family? All those of the squash and melon family are included, as well as the gourds. Find out more about their family,Cucubitaceae.
Like starting any tender plants inside, first plant the seeds in moist seed starter soil ( regular potting soil and certainly outdoor soil is too heavy and might cause rot).
Once you begin seeing little leaves, lightly fertilize and keep in a well lit space.
Harden off the plants once you near the frost-free date.
Plant your seedlings outside in the garden in good garden soil after all danger of frost is past.
Make Your Own Pots?
Your own pots can be easily made using origami techniques and old newspapers. How to make your own paper pots, illustrated tutorial.
There is even a small form available to ease the chore of making many pots.
Source: Secrets du Potager Paper Pot Maker One of the benefits of using old materials to make your own pots is that by recycling you are being environmentally green. Not to mention that it is a frugal step that saves plenty of money to use in for other gardening projects.
More ways to be frugal and recycle:
Use egg cartons, or pots made of wrapping paper tubes, cut in 8″ lengths and lined with newspaper circle.
Be sure to fill your seedlings pots with good growing medium. It is not money saving to scrimp on soil that is sterile and of the right ingredients to give your new plants a good start. Regular garden soil won’t do. It is too dense, and has organisms that can contribute to the demise of your new seedlings. Of course you can (and many gardeners do) mix your own medium and go through the process of sterilizing it yourself, but that is more labor intensive than many have the time and energy for.
The following available mixes are good for your plants, and are easy to obtain and use.Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix, 8-Quart (currently ships to select Northeastern & Midwestern states)
Or buy the fixings and make your own:
Seed Starting “Soil”
- 1 part coir or sphagnum moss (my local greenhouse uses coir)
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part vermiculite
Early Start IS 66412 3-Shelf Green House Workbench
Having the right light, with green house humidity is one surefire way to a great start on the season
Home Gardeners Grow Them – Woo Hoo! A Good Sourcebook
That means you. You can grow these veggies easily, and this guide will give you all the tips.
Gourds in Your Garden: A Guidebook for the Home Gardener
Guidebook for those who are serious about growing and crafting with gourds.
You can take hours poring through hundreds of online articles, or you can get this primer and get started right away.
- Popular gourd shapes
- Controlling gourd plant pests
- Preparing your gourds
…and loads more including lists of suppliers, a growing calendar, and space for notes.
Easy to grow with large seeds and fast germination rates, but need a long growing season.
Building Trellis For Gourds – Garden Girl Demonstrates
Vertical Gardening – Grow vining plants or wide spreading plants with ease
Just grow up!
Literally, grow skyward and let authors Rebecca Sweet and Susan Morrison guide you into all sorts of ideas and landscape solutions which involve vertical gardening. Perfect for putting gourds into your garden.
Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces
Urban and suburban gardens don’t always have the extra space for plants such as the gourd family, but this book provides plenty of landscape inspiration and creative ways to include more plants in more ways than you may have imagined.
Birdhouse Gourds Drying
Burn, Carve, Paint
Gourds can be beautiful.Sometimes in their own right, but this fruit just begs to be decorated. Plenty of craftspeople and artists have answered that plea, and you would be astonished at the gorgeous art that starts out as a humble gourd.
One of the places I discovered how many truly beautiful artworks that people create from lowly gourds was on Pinterest. I was already aware of the useful projects, like simple birdhouses, and decorative displays of them (my mother always had some dried and varnished gourds in a bowl because she loved Autumn colors). I also had taken quite an interest in the painting that is displayed in the Kentucky Artisan shop off the highway in Berea, Kentucky, but until I saw the splendid works of art online I had little idea of the intricate and ingenious ways the gourds can be embellished.
So You Want To Be An Artist – How-to video
How can you decorate a gourd?
See the work of Carol Kroll and Martha Danek
A sweet, very easy way to use your gourds for garden art is to make fairy houses. I saw a number of these cute and creative little homes posted on Pinterest boards and thought that this would be a great way to combine growing gourds with other parts of a garden plan. Create fairy gardens and a community of houses made from this material.
As utility containers they can be used as ladles or birdhouses, bowls, or bottles. Many love them as fine art canvases or sculpted pieces.
Invite Purple Martins
You grew your gourds, made your birdhouses, and now what?
Invite Purple Martins to your yard! Purple Martins are premier mosquito and insect eaters. They love to have “apartment complexes” and this is a great way to use the many fruits of your labor.
Make a birdhouse for purple martins.
Hang the gourd houses at least two stories up. Purple Martins like to live on high in the middle of the yard.
Complete Book For The Crafting Of Hardshell Squashes
Complete Book of Gourd Carving
One of the best, and most useful, how to books on the art of carving a gourd.
You will be amazed by the many ways that people turn gourds into true works of art, and here are detailed instructions needed to make your own artistic carvings.
Crafting Tools You Will Need To Make Your Own Gourd Art
- Wood Transfer Paper: Used For Tracing Designs Onto Wood (8 Sheets – 18″ x 24″)If you special designs and don’t trust freehand, or if you need pattern guidance for burning or carving, this transfer paper is necessary for good results.
Burn Art Tool – Pyrography Tool
One of the best tools to have if you plan to do a lot of burning designs into surfaces like wood or the Lagenaria squashes.
Woodburning with one of the best tools available gives superior results.
- Proxxon 38530 Super Jig Saw STS/E>Most of your projects will benefit from this saw. From cutting out the holes of a birdhouse to carving intricate decorations, this tool will be indispensable.
- Clapham’s Beeswax 870-3008 Salad Bowl Finish, 8-OuncesTo polish the surface of your finished creation.
Be sure to see the other gourd preparation videos in the series. How to saw and prepare a gourd for crafts.
List of Helpful Sites – Growing info and Craft ideas
- P. Allen Smith Garden Home
Directions for drying gourds and making a gourd birdhouse.
- Growing Gourds
Online information about the North Carolina Gourd Society, Alpha Chapter of the American Gourd Society.
- American Gourd Society Growing Guide
PDF makes printing out the info easy. Growing guide for New York is useful for most states of the North USA.
- California Gourd Society
California Gourd Society invites artists to participate in classes, events and festivals.
- Hardshell Squash
Lagenaria siceraria in the plant index of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Ladle out your comments here, let the little birdie speak, spoon it on thick, be crafty about it, burn it into our brains, and carve out a place for your thoughts… in this space.
Originally published by Ilona Erwin 02/09/13 on Squidoo.
I’ll never forget the year that I grew gourds up a trellis against the garage. They did well, and I put out a basket full on the front porch for autumn decorations. Do you know that the squirrels dragged off every last one of those gourds? I didn’t even know they were edible!