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Gourds -- Permaculture Uses

 
pollinator
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Ever since I discovered that I could make usable things out of gourds, I've been growing a diverse assortment of them. Big. Little. Round. Long. Skinny. Fat. A friend showed me how to process them into bowls and containers, and I've experimented with them ever since. i like the fact that they are easily and cheaply replaceable, and old or broken gourds can be chucked right into the compost bin. Plus it's a crop that fits nicely as an understory ground cover in my orchard. And better yet, most varieties I grow are edible. What a versatile crop!

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garden master
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Will you detail how you prepare the gourds? Some years back, I looked into doing this, the info I saw suggested using bleach... Is that correct?
 
gardener
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What varieties are edible and can be gourds? Dual use may push me to try it.
 
pollinator
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i love it! have been trying to grow them for a while with no success, I thought maybe it was not dry enough, but if you're doing well with them it must be possible. Any suggestions as to seasons, etc? Sounds like they do well with shade.
(after many years of no success, I'm getting loofahs coming up, maybe this will be my lucky year!)
 
pollinator
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I saw your post on the Calabashes thread, Su Ba.

I thought that gourds were just inedible squash species dried and put to the use of containing things, or sometimes to make music, and that calabashes were just a species of gourd. Interesting.

As Tereza mentioned, loofahs are great. If I can work them into a garden plan, I hope to start using them to replace dish sponges (for washing dishes).

Would that we could grow all the small- to medium-sized containers now usually made out of plastic. If you grew gourds in transparent, breatheable moulds, like they do with watermelons in China to make them cubes, they could even be made to stack and pack easily, far more so than short little cylinders of plastic.

-CK
 
Su Ba
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Some gourds are too bitter or fibrous to be edible, even when young. But others are quite usable for food. In fact, many of the ladies I've met while living in Hawaii use gourds regularly for food. I've gotten quite a gourd education since moving here. For gourds to be edible, they need to be harvested early before the rind hardens.

Currently I'm growing some landrace strains of edible gourds on the farm, but since they are based upon a mix of edible and non-edible, I still occasionally get some bitter plants. When I find them, I pull them out and add them to the compost. As a result most of the time I can use my gourds for eating....for ourselves and for the livestock. Although I'm growing landrace strains, originally I started with seeds from various seed catalogs. I started with an assortment of large gourds, not the decorative small Halloween types.

Knowing nothing about gourds, I saved the seeds and was quite surprised when the next generation produced gourds different from the parent plant. I got a quick education about cross pollination. But I kept saving seeds from the gourds that I liked and I still get an assortment of sizes and shapes, but mostly edible and usable for crafting. Besides taste, I also select for thick rinds. The thick rinds make better crafting gourds. The thin rinded ones tend to collapse or crack, so I use them for practice but not seed saving (after determining a plant is producing thin rinded gourds, I'll mark that plant and just use the gourds it produces for livestock feed) ......except for one type that is very popular around here for kitchen use. It's moderately medium thick rinded but when dry, breaks too easily. So I grow this one to supply the local hongwanji ladies and to make simple bowls for home use. They're my "disposable" bowls.  
 
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I've often thought that bottle gourds would make good plant nursery containers. If kept a little off the ground, hey would probably last long enough for a seedling to become established, then could simply be placed in a garden bed to decompose as the plant grows.

Has anyone tried this before?
 
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