I’d like to tell you about a beautiful gourd that a dear friend gave to us; perhaps you have heard of it before. It is called the “speckled swan gourd”, and it truly looks like a swan at rest. The base is large and round, then swoops into a long, narrow shape, topped by a slightly bulbous “head” that looks amazingly like a swan. The gourd is about sixteen inches long, dark green, with light green speckles. It is a truly beautiful gourd, very unique!
Gourds are really beautiful, aren’t they! If you have the space, they are easy to grow, and it is great fun to see what kind of gourds emerge from the leaves! When I was a little gardener, my Mom always got me a package of the mixed gourds. I can still see the corner of the garden where my gourd patch used to be, and I can remember how I’d run out every day to see how things were coming along. The crop of gourds proudly became part of our house decorations for fall and Thanksgiving.
I did a little homework, and I’ll tell you what I learned. There are two varieties of gourds, hard skinned and soft skinned. They’re a crop that requires the full season to mature, anywhere from 100 days and up, depending on your variety of seed. Varieties that take longer may have to be started indoors, and then planted outside once all danger of frost is past. With their quick-growing, luxurious vines, gourds require full sun and a rich soil. You can give them a little fertilizer or top-dress the soil with compost.
Gourds are easy-care, but still could be plagued by the same problems as their cousins, the pumpkins and zucchini. Be aware that you will have to watch for cucumber beetles, squash vine borer, and aphids. To avoid problems like mildew, allow enough room between plants for air to circulate, and in the fall, be sure to clear away any plant debris.
Gourds are ready to harvest when the stems turn brown. Be sure to leave a few inches of the stem when you pick them. At this point you can either bring them in or start enjoying them right away, or you can begin a longer process to preserve them for a longer period of time. Either way, they are a delight! No two are the same, and their interesting textures and vibrant colors look wonderful on display in a basket!
Mark the date on your calendar and join us at the next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society on Wed., Oct. 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street. Bring along a notepad and a pen, because the theme of the meeting is “an interactive evening”, and every horticultural club member is asked to bring five helpful hints on any aspect of gardening. Whether you have tips on how to have bigger pumpkins, brighter petunias, storing carrots, or lifting bulbs, then jot them down and bring them to the meeting to share them and compare them! Hope you can join us! Horticultural members, please remember to bring your garden pictures to add to the club photo album. It’s always great to see the beautiful results of our gardening efforts!
The weather has definitely turned, but it is very satisfying to put away the last of the garden tools and the tchotchkes and settle down for the winter, isn’t it! After two very wet years, this was a much better year; it gives us encouragement to look forward to the year ahead!
Have a great week, and I hope we can still enjoy a cuppa coffee or two in our yards, even if we do have to wear fleeces or parkas to do it!