It’s exciting to see new seedlings beginning to sprout. These tender baby plants began to grow inside, where is is nice and warm. They go outside in the sunlight during the day and are brought in at night, just in case we get another frost! Their seed-cases are still sitting on top of the two first leaves like little hats.
It’s great to hear how all the gourd seedlings are getting on around the region. Some are still in pots and others are planted out and growing vigorously. Gourd plants need room to spread and grow strong roots, and they need plenty of water and rich soil. If the plants are kept in pots, they will have restricted growth.
For the best results, get all those seedlings planted out as soon as possible! Now that summer is here, regular watering may be needed. Keep an eye on your gourd plants. If the leaves look wilted, soak the soil around the base of the plant with plenty of water, and the leaves will soon recover.
December weather in Whanganui has been warm and wet so far; excellent growing conditions for gourd plants. Tender young plants need protection not just from slugs and snails, but also from wind and birds. An effective plant-shelter can be made for each gourd-plant using a 2-litre drink container. Just cut off the top and bottom, sit it around the plant, and hold it in place with a few sticks so the wind doesn’t blow it away. These shelters stop blackbirds and other birds from digging up the plant. When the gourd-plant outgrows the space, pull out the sticks and lift the shelter off. You can re-use the shelter on another seedling, or recycle it.
Have your gourd seeds sprouted yet? Your seedlings will be ready to plant out in the garden, when they have a few leaves. Gourd plants like rich well-drained soil, so making small mounds of compost is a good way to have strong and healthy plants.
Spring is well underway and the season of frosts is over, though we might still get cold blasts of wind. Keep your seedlings well protected from birds and wind.
A cut-off two-litre plastic bottle, held down with a piece of wire makes a good little mini-greenhouse for each seedling, and will protect it from birds as well as wind. When your plant outgrows this space, you can easily lift it off and recycle your bottle-greenhouse for another seedling.