Planting time

Those great big gourds grown over last summer are almost all dry now with the seeds rattling around inside. So that was four months of drying time. Soon I will clean them up and then decide what to do with them!

Gourds need a really long growing season to build up a nice thick shell. Ideally, your plants can go out into the ground now, but Its not too late to plant gourd seeds for the summer. I’ve just put 12 seeds into water to soak for a day. Tomorrow I will put them between damp paper-towels in the hot water cupboard to hasten the sprouting.

Autumn harvest is drawing near

Where did those last 6 months go? Its been a long hot dry summer here in Whanganui. Anyone who has managed to get a good crop of gourds has done well. We’ve got a few beauties waiting to be picked. The vines are still growing and flowering, because the summery weather has stretched out into May. These gourds are massive, so they will take months to dry when the time comes to pick them.

3 gourdsgourd 1

Spring Arrives

September 1 this week marked the calendar beginning of Spring, and the slight warming of the air is encouraging lots of plants to start their spring growth. It’s time to get those hue/gourd seeds growing! It won’t be warm enough for gourd plants to be out in the garden until October, when all the danger of frost is past, but the seeds can be soaked overnight and then sprouted inside before then.

gourd shoots

The best sprouting place is a warm hot-water cupboard in a container with damp paper towels. just make sure the towels don’t dry out. Your seeds will have little shoots popping out within a few days. As soon as they sprout, get them into some nice clean damp seed-raising mix; one seed per partition (eg in a six-part cell-pack).

sprouting gourds

Within a week, the first two seed-leaves will appear. At this stage, the seedlings need protection from slugs and snails. They need warmth, light and moisture. Too much water will make the stalks rot. Keep them growing inside like this until the true leaves have appeared.Plant out in the garden when the seedling has about 4-6 true leaves

If it’s still too cold where you live, transplant your hue / gourd into a big pot and keep it in a sheltered place.

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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!
 

Rampant gourd growth

Gourd plants have an amazing ability to grow and thrive when they have the right conditions. Every time I visit the gourd garden, the vines are spreading further; taking over a stump, climbing up trees, and heading off across the wood stack.

You can discipline the plants by un-tangling the clinging tendrils and moving the vines around to point in the direction you actually want them to grow, or you can chop the growing tip off the vines before they take over your back garden. It won’t harm the plant, and will ensure more of that growing energy goes into the rest of your plant and into the fruit.

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Fruit on the Vine

Summer warmth and rain will be producing rampant growth on the gourd vines all around the region. Gourd growers will be noticing the growth of the fruit from below all the female flowers. The male flowers produce pollen, but no fruit. So, if you seem to have lots and lots of flowers but not many young gourds forming, it means you have mainly male flowers. 

You can intervene in nature to change the size of your gourds and the numbers of fruit that form. If you want your fruit to grow large, cut off the end of the vine-branch that lies beyond your young gourd fruit, so that the all the growth goes into the one fruit, instead of into forming more stems, leaves and extra fruit.

If you want lots and lots of gourds, chop the end off the long vine, so that it grows more side branches. These are called laterals, and they produce the fruit.

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Gourd fruit with withered flower, and new female flower-bud forming

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Aramoho Playcentre’s baby gourd