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Growing Gourds

What Gourds Grow in Your Area

In order to make the most of your growing season, it is important to determine where you live and how long your growing season is.  When growing gourds you must determine what types of gourds will grow in your area successfully. If you live in the northern most of the lower 48 states, you cannot expect to grow 50 pound kettle gourds and have any survive unless you have a large greenhouse.

Northern states should limit your growing area to smaller gourds, Sennari's and mini's, and possibly gourds just slightly larger. Northern most states trying to grow basketball's or canteens may find it difficult to harvest any viable gourds of this size, depending on the year.

Growing gourds in the Northern midwestern states, and states in that zone, (I'm talking climate similar to Indiana south of Indianapolis), can grow mini's and small-medium sized gourds quite well, but larger medium sized gourds like Zulu's, large canteens will likely be thin shelled.  You may get a few nice ones, but they are iffy in this area.  very large gourds will be fun to try to grow in these area's, but don't plan your crop around them.

Large gourds and really thick shelled gourds wil be found in the South and Southwestern states.  California and Arizona provide some of the thickest commercially grown gourds. The southern and warmer climates are ideal for growing gourds of all sizes and shapes.

We were growing gourds in the central Indiana area and some of the best gourds to grow in that climate were:

  • Mini's
  • Mini Pears
  • Sennari's
  • Hyakunari's (dense shells up to about 1/4 inch)
  • Apple Gourds (extremely thick and hard shelled)
  • Mexican bottles (Nice shell for a larger gourd)
  • Indonesian bottles (nice shell for a larger gourd)
  • Canon Ball
  • Goose neck
  • Powder Horn
  • Short Handle Dipper
  • Apache Dipper
  • Caveman Club ( we grew these in our back yard the first year we grew gourds, suprised at how well they did, about 1/4 inch thick)
  • Maranka
  • Long Handle Dipper

Other gourds we grew that matured but did not have very thick shells and the viable crops were small were:

  • Canteen's
  • Corsican Boxes
  • Snake Gourds, (although it may have just been the nature of snake gourds to be thin)
  • African Zulu
  • Banana gourds, (although since they are a small gourd, we are inclined to believe they are just thin shelled gourds anyway)

You can refer to our gourd identification chart for reference to these gourds. This list of gourds is based on our experience growing gourds in the Indiana area.  You may have a better or worse experience depending on soil conditions, moisture, the climate for that year, etc.  we have known of some to grow larger gourds successfully and some who did not grow our successful gourds well at all.  The list is simply meant to be a guideline and is not complete, we did not try to grow every variety, we did try a bushel or kettle one year, and it did not survive the curing process as it was too thin.

There are some measures you can take to help you grow gourds in the colder area's of the country.  One is to germinate and preplant your seeds in a small cup or planter. Start your germination or plant in your smal container about 4 weeks before the last chance of frost, then transplant when the soil is ready and the last chance of frost is past. When transplanting, be careful of the root ball because gourds do not like their roots to be excessively disturbed.  The gourds should be placed in the ground after any chance of frost, and it helps if the ground has been warmed a little first, but is not necessary if you've had plently of sun.

Beating the frost, we did plant 3 weeks before the last chance of frost one year, expecting it to be a warmer year because we were already mowing our lawn.  Well a cold snap hit us for about a week, but we beat it by piling grass clippings and straw over the plant, enough to bury it but not enough to crush it or weigh it down.  We lost one out of about a dozen early plants that year due to frost.

Next: Seed Germination


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