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Gourds. But why?

June 7, 2010

Months ago I became intrigued by the odd heirloom gourds I discovered while browsing the Seed Saver Exchange winter catalog. I was tempted to order the variety pack only because I was certain no one I knew had ever grown them. A quick review of the expanding garden template reminded me that my yard is only 65 feet wide and some of these vines grow to be that long. OK, so they weren’t suited for raised beds in tight spaces and I had already committed to Patty more variety of actually edible plantings than I had raised beds (at the time).

But I can justify anything if I put my mind to it.

Justification #1: We don’t want to use insecticides in the garden. Insecticides kill bugs. Bugs eat plants. Birds eat bugs. Therefore Birdhouse gourds would be justified as a worthy crop behind cohutt’s fence. Yes I know, a compromise vs the decorative gourds originally ogled in the SSE catalog.

Justification #2: I had slaved all winter to erect the back section of my fence; unfortunately it looked so tall and new, like the stockade fence on the old F-Troop tv series. Gourds grow quickly. Check. Gourd vines can grow in excess of 60 feet long. Check. Gourd vines aren’t permanent and something else can be done next season. Check. I had an excess inventory of 18′ bamboo poles from which gourd trellis yard art can spring. Check

So…. I built a raised bed out of the last of my 2×12 lumber; actually it was more like a raised box, measuring only 30″ square. I excavated out a 6″ basement for this box and filled it with composted dairy cow manure before topping it with Mel’s mix.

After planting a dozen or so seeds in this box/bed in late April, a hideously beautiful bamboo teepee frame was erected over the box. A few pieces of 300 lb green garden twine were tied so that it radiated from a piece of rusty re-bar wired to the box out to the top of the fence.

The box. Note that this is anchored via a steel stake so that the teepee might also be anchored. The unanchored bamboo blew down while I was setting it up. (In case there is any doubt: An 18′ bamboo teepee frame gets your attention when it jumps you from behind while you are blissfully surveying the garden listening to a podcast.)

The now securely anchored bamboo teepee:

The spouts doing their thing at the twine terminal base….


The sprouts

Next- gourd kudzu and spur of the moment trellis

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