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Growing Gourds

Seed Germination

When you are growing gourds, normally seed germination will occur in the ground naturally, once the ground temperature reaches a certain temperature, however for those who live in colder climates, some people prefer to germinate the seeds by manually, then plant them.  There are some advantages to this, you get to know that the seeds you planted had already started rooting and you know those seeds are viable, and another advantage is getting an earlier start.  you can also speed up the germination process by putting the germinating seeds in a warm place.

The method we found to work best for germinating gourd seeds is to take a ziplock baggie, get a paper towel wet and gently wring out the excess water, you want it wet but not dripping.  Fold the paper towel into 4ths or 8ths, the set the wet folded paper towel flat inside the baggie.  Now, line your gourd seeds in rows on top of the paper towel leaving at least a half inch to an inch between each seed to avoid root tangling.

To speed up the seed germination process you need a supply of warmth.  Gourds as well as gourd seeds like warmth.  One of our favorite methods of warming up the seeds is to place them on top of a TV set or computer monitor that will be warm and left on 24 hours per day, at least until the seeds germinate.  Modern day LCD tv's and monitors will not provide this warmth, but anything similar will work.  You want a place that when you lay your hand on top of it, it is warm to the touch.  Not hot, you don't wnt to cook the seeds, but warm.

Smaller gourd seeds will germinate faster, larger seeds normally take more time.  We have had seeds germinate in 24 hours time, although the typical time is around 3 days.  If you seeds do not germinate right away, do not give up yet, we have had some seeds take as long as 10 days, even though other seeds in the same baggie and from the same gourd germinated in 3 days.

Once the seeds have germinated, handle them with care and get them in the ground or planter right away.  If you wait until the seeds have grown through the paper towel and tangled with other seeds, you can have a problem seperating them and can damage the roots trying to get them untangled. We have on occassion had seeds tangle so badly, we did not even try to separate them, we just buried the entire paper towle, the roots will grow through it, and they can be thinned out later.

If it is still cold outside, you can also plant these seeds in a planter or peat pot, however peat pots should be wrapped or placed in an identical sized planter as they surface acts like a wick that will dry them out rapidly.

Once your seed germination is complete, place your seeds in the ground with the root pointed down or place the root under the shell horizontally. While the common misconception in growing gourds is to plant the seeds point down, if you germinate a seed and watch it sprout, you will notice the root automatically turns 180 degrees and grows down the length of the seed from the point to the rounded back.  Gourd seeds are larger than many other seeds, and the point is actually used like the point of a stake to cut it's way to the surface.  The gourd seeds always come out of the ground pointed side up, with the first baby leaves still hanging down inside the shell, once they have broken the surface they will normallt pull free of the shell.

Our experiments have found a greater success rate with seeds planted horizontal or pointed up, rather than the point down as this causes the root to have to turn the seed underground.  Also plant the seeds about as deep as the seeds are long, not too deep and not too shallow.

Next: Fish Emulsion Fertilizer


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