In the Grip of Winter

Another frost blankets the ground in Whanganui this morning. By now, all the gourds grown over the last season should be harvested and stored in an airy place, where they can gradually turn from green to brown and dry. Sunshine will help the moisture inside each gourd to evaporate.

dead vines

Dead vines with ripe gourds

ripe fruit and dead vines

Ripe gourds ready to pick

Because drying gourds are exuding moisture, they can develop thick moulds. These can be wiped off with bleach or with methylated spirits, or the mould can be left to grow. It will form interesting patterns on the surface of the gourd that can be enhanced and polished when the gourd is fully dried.

first cleaned gourd of 2015

Cleaned gourd

Now is the time to pull out the dried gourd vines from the garden and compost them. Clear away any weeds, add manure or compost to the ground to replenish nutrients used over the growing season, then cover the bare earth with a thick layer of mulch to prevent any weeds growing. This will ensure your garden is ready to replant in spring.


Celebration of the Hue Harvest

Kia ora ra,
Greetings to all the growers of hue (gourds) over the 2014-15 growing season. What a dry and challenging summer it was! Hopefully you managed to successfully get some gourds growing in your school and home gardens. Now that the harvesting is complete, it’s time to bring  your best gourds in the Whanganui Regional Museum and show them off to everyone else!
We will decide on prizes for all kinds of gourds on Thursday 18 June, between12.30 and 2.30. There will be lots of Puanga activities happening too, so come along and join in the celebration! If you want to bring your gourds in earlier, you are most welcome. Just label them and pack them in a box and deliver to the front desk of the Museum. To make sure you get your precious taonga back (with the prize you deserve, of course!) put a label sticker underneath each hue/ gourd with your name and contact phone number.
Please spread this message to anyone else you know who has been growing gourds this year. We hope to see you all there!

Summer Gourd Growth

Summer has finally arrived here in Whanganui, and the days are warm and dry. Gourds like a temperature of 20 degrees C to germinate, so any gourd seeds or seedlings that have sat and sulked in their pots should be growing happily now.  When your plants are in the ground, keep the seedlings watered until they are well established. They will flourish well in the warm weather, but keep an eye out for drooping leaves. If no rain arrives, the plants will need watering.

The vines will naturally try to climb and ramble. They are ideal for covering any messy corners of the garden, up old dead trees, or up a trellis if you have one.

Rampant vines 2, 2015Ramant vines 2015

Gorgeous gourds

We have had well over 1,000 people take part in the Whanganui Gourd Project so far. Last summer, some gardeners had trouble growing hue(gourds),  while others had amazing results. Keith Street School in Whanganui  successfully grew and dried their gourds then created some very beautiful taonga. What is especially lovely is the way the detailed patterns created by the children complement  the natural patterns caused by mould during the drying process.

Keith Street School hue whakairo

Hue decorated by Keith Street School, on display at Whanganui Regional Museum

lovely hue

Beautiful taonga created by kids from Keith Street School

Some of the school-groups visiting the Museum exhibition A Conversation With Hine-Pu-Te Hue have created decorated paper-mache taha inspired by the taonga in the exhibition and around the Museum.

paper-clay taha

Papier-mache taha created by children from Wanganui Intermediate School

These beautiful taonga created by children are on display in Whanganui Regional Museum for just this week, so if you are in the area, drop in and admire their artwork. While you are here, you may want to pick up a hue plant  or a packet of seeds.


Flowers appearing

Officially its summer. In reality Whanganui is still experiencing Springtime weather, with sunshine and warmth alternating with cold winds and bursts of rain. The gourd plants are happy, and growing vigorously. Yesterday I found the first gourd flower. If another one opens and the bees do their work (if one is a male and one a female of course), the resulting fruit may get six months to grow and ripen before the first frosts here, so I’ll be lavishing care and attention on that plant! last year I just let the plants grow rampant. This year I plan to judiciously remove some of the young fruit to use as a vegetable, like kamokamo, and let one fruit on a plant grow as large as possible. It will need some extra water and manure.

If you haven’t planted any seeds yet, and you live in the Whanganui region, we have hue (gourd) plants available at Whanganui Regional Museum. Plants are free to schools taking part in the Whanganui Gourd Project, so just call us at the Museum and let us know how many you want.


Hue / gourd plants available now at Whanganui Regional Museum


Planting time is here

Springtime is bringing rain sun wind rain sun wind as usual to Whanganui, with a few hail-storms thrown in here and there. It’s really time to get those young gourd plants out into the garden. We still have plenty of seeds here at Whanganui Regional Museum, so come in any time (10am-4.30pm) to pick up a packet (including a handy information pamphlet) from one of our friendly visitor services staff…that’s Jilly holding the seed packet. If you don’t have time to grow the seeds, we have some beautiful healthy young plants here too. They are a good size and ready to go in the ground. Then cross your fingers and toes that we don’t get any more hailstorms.



This morning was even more freezing than the last few days. A hailstorm hit our house and blasted over the normally warm terrace where the gourd seedlings sit and sunbathe.AAARRGGHHH!  I rushed outside to rescue them before their little green leaves were shredded and frozen.  I thought this was going to be the weekend for planting young gourds out into the garden, so they can have as long a growing season as possible.  Impossible!

For anyone out there who hasn’t managed to get some gourd seeds growing yet, don’t worry. You are not too late. Just pop into Whanganui Regional Museum and pick up a packet. Remember to soak them overnight to soften the tough coating, and sprout them somewhere lovely and warm. A hot-water cupboard is perfect if you have one. Seeds need warmth, moisture and air, so don’t drown your seeds by over-watering them, and don’t plant them too deep, where they can’t get any air.