Grow Your Own

Growing and decorating gourds.

Growing gourds is fairly simple in Central Florida. They’re not cold-hardy, so “you can grow them year-round except in the dead of winter,” says Jim Hunter, owner of South Seminole Farm and Nursery in Casselberry. “And you usually get an abundance of them.”

In early spring, plant the seeds about a half-inch deep, water them well and “feed them with any kind of vegetable fertilizer,” he says. Small gourds take about 60 days to produce, while bigger ones can take as long as four months.

If you plan to decorate your gourds, let them dry over the summer. As they dry, gourds may develop a harmless fungus that can be sprayed with a copper fungicide. Johny Blunt, who has created jewelry, ornaments and bowls from gourds and is a member of the Florida Gourd Society’s Seminole Patch, advises newbie gourd-crafters to wear a mask and rubber gloves when scrubbing off the fungus in case they’re allergic to molds.

“You can clean moldy, dried skin off the gourd and it doesn’t scratch the surface,” Blunt says. “When you go back to paint on it, you’ll have a nice, smooth, even surface. It’s nature’s canvas.”

Categories: Gardening