Halloween Pumpkins And Gourds

Swan Gourds

Swan Gourds

Unk gourd

American Tondo gourd

It’s Pumpkin Time!…celebration of Halloween across America. A local pumpkin farm had over 60 kinds of pumpkins to choose from.

According to the Missouri Botanical Gardens website: “the term pumpkin really has no botanical meaning”. Pumpkins and gourds are classified as squashes in the Cucurbitaceae family along with cucumbers and melons.

If you want to grow pumpkins and gourds, they require fertile soil and lots of fertilizer to support the vines and fruits. Apply 2-3 lbs. of 19-19-19 (N-P-K) per 1000 square feet at planting time followed by an additional 1-2 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft of bed of actual nitrogen (N) or ammonium nitrate at 3 – 6 lb. per 1000 sq. ft. rate in mid-summer. Irrigate as needed and keep vines mulched.

Pumpkins and gourds are threatened by several potentially serious diseases (anthracnose, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and alternaria) and insects (striped and spotted cucumber beetles, vine borer, and aphids). Crop rotation is very important. Grow on new ground each year. Consult your local Extension office or state university for the latest Pesticide Recommendations to manage pests and diseases on gourds. Luffa types are generally tolerant to insects and diseases. Be “Bee Aware” and other important pollinators of vegetable crops.

Wagon full of 'Casperita'

Wagon full of ‘Casperita’

Proper harvesting is just as important as growing pumpkins and gourds. Fruit skins are sensitive to injury. Luffa gourds are thick skinned and are harvested when the fruits turn brown. Cut gourds with a sharp knife or pruning shear. Leave some of the stem remaining, as stemless gourds are not as ornamental for decoration.

Wash fruits with a mild non-bleaching detergent and with a soft brush. Space gourds apart (not touching) in a dry place with good ventilation and out of the sun. Once thoroughly dry and hardened,  gourds can be waxed and/or  decoratively painted.

Saving Seeds – this is a common practice. However, many types freely inter-pollinate and their progeny may not look the same. The saved seeds are collected, dried, and stored in a cool, dry spot for 3 to 4 years.

 

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