When to Plant Gourd Seeds
Gourds germinate and grow best in temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees F. It’s about 180 days from planting to harvest, so colder zones with short growing seasons will need to start indoors 6-8 weeks before the final frost. Make sure to give them plenty of proper lighting to prevent them from getting too leggy later on.
Where to Plant Gourd Seeds
Choose a large area that receives full sunlight and will allow room for the vines to sprawl. They can be grown in pots, but this will limit their size and production significantly. Choose soil that is well-drained and warm, with a bit more clay than sand. Gourds generally do not thrive in sandy soil. If you are testing pH levels, 5.8 – 6.4 is the sweet spot for gourd production. Please note, even if it is warm outside, if the ground remains cold they will not grow well. Gourd seeds are notorious for their long germination time, but there are a couple things you can do to help.
How to Plant Gourd Seeds
Scarify the seeds with a nail file or sandpaper, then soak them in a bowl of lukewarm water for 24 hours to help speed up the process significantly. Dry the seeds completely on a piece of wax paper to prevent them from rotting before they even sprout. Dig rows 2 – 3 feet apart and create hills that have 4 – 5 feet of space between hills. Plant each seedling or sow each seed in its own hill, and cover with ½ inch of dirt, or to the base of new growth for seedlings. Water frequently to keep soil damp. Mulch can help contain moisture in dryer spells or climates.
How to Care for Gourds
Gourds can cure on the vine once the vine starts to die, but turn them occasionally and prevent them from touching and make sure to check for pests. Curing process takes around several weeks to a month.
How to Harvest Gourds
Edible gourds need to be removed from the vine when they are younger. If they need to be cut early, wait until the vine at the top of the gourd is completely dry and brown. Gourds that are ready are hard and waxy to the touch. Fully cured gourds rattle when shaken, as the seeds are bouncing around inside. Soft and squishy indicates a rotten gourd, and should be discarded.