Whanganui is having such a mild Autumn, after a long dry summer, that some gourd plants are not dying off as expected. Many gourd growers around the region have picked their gourds and are beginning the drying process. I’ve been out to the gourd garden this evening, checking on the gourds and the plants. Most of the vines have died off, and the gourds are all outside to dry, where there is plenty of air around them.
Five very persistent plants are still growing, with new leaves, flowers and even tiny fruit setting. Although these late fruit are shrivelling and rotting on the vines, the plants just keep on growing. There are large, mature fruit on the growing vines, which will be left until the vines have died and withered. During these final weeks, any large ripe gourds will be growing thicker shells.
Gourds that are harvested too soon will shrink and wrinkle as they dry, instead of keeping their shape and size. So be patient!
Immature gourd shrivelling as it dries
Gourds picked too early become sunken and misshaped as they dry
Greetings to all of the gourd growers out there! Here’s a date to put into your diaries. In conjunction with our new Museum exhibition:
Tahā – A Conversation with Hine Pū Te Hue, we are having the judging of the great-gourd-growing-competition here at Whanganui Regional Museum on Tuesday 27 May, from 1.30-2.30 pm. There are heaps of great prizes for schools and education groups, and a few more for all of the other gardeners.
If your gourds didn’t do so well, just come along anyway and enjoy the event. All school or class-groups who attend but don’t have a gourd of their own, will be given a ripe gourd fruit to take away and begin the drying process back at school.
If you grew some great gourds, but you can’t get there on the day, bring in your best specimens anyway, so we can all admire them. Every gourd will have a label, so you will get your own gourds back.
Give us a call on 06 3491110 and let us know you will be coming, or post a comment!
Around the Whanganui region, gourd vines are dying off and the mature fruit harvested, ready for drying. Young and old alike have been delighted at their results!
Aramoho Playcentre gourd with a proud young gardener!
Some huge gourds have already been brought into Whanganui Regional Museum and have been added into Tahā – A Conversation with Hine Pū Te Hue, the exhibition of tahā (gourds).
Also on display are the amazing gourds grown over last summer, and the very very old taonga from the Whanganui Regional Museum collection. It takes the effort of growing these wonderful plants and drying to fruit, for us to appreciate the care and dedication required for the creation of these taonga.
It’s almost time for the great gourd growing competition to end, so get your best gourds ready! Yours might be a prize-winner…biggest, smallest, ugliest, most beautiful…the list of categories goes on and on. Put aside 1.30-2.30 pm, Tuesday 27 May in your diary, and get down to the Whanganui Regional Museum. If you can’t be there on the day, bring in your best gourds anyway..we’d love to see them!
Massive gourd grown by TKKM o Tupoho
An enormous gourd and a proud gardener!
A few more days of rain and cold, and the gourd vines are withering fast. A few of the vines still have vigorously growing tips, and small immature fruit. These are unlikely to ripen enough to dry. When the vines die off these small fruit will probably just shrivel up and rot.
Ripe fruit on vines that have withered and dried have been picked and left to dry on a pile of dry branches, with spaces in between. This will give plenty of air circulation around each gourd fruit, and expose the shells to some more sunshine to harden them off.
Harvested gourds drying outside on a pile of branches
As the fruit begin to dry, parts of the outer skin may rot a little and start peeling off. This is not a problem, so don’t throw away your gourd! The rotted outer skin can be wiped off leaving the woody shell underneath to harden and dry.
Gourd fruit with outer skin rotting away
Some of your vines may still be alive and supplying water and nutrients to the gourd fruit. leave these fruit attached to the vine, as the shell will be gradually becoming thicker and stronger. If the gourds are supported off the ground, the drying process can begin naturally, as soon as the vine withers completely.
These ripe gourds still attached to a growing vine will be left in situ to dry.
Gourds that are sitting on the wet ground may begin to rot. If the vines are still alive, gently lift the gourds onto a dry area away from the damp soil. When the stems are completely dried, the fruit can be moved to a better position for the long drying process.
A cluster of gourds still attached to vines have been moved onto a tree-stump for support.