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Kudzu vs gourds

June 9, 2010

I have been impressed by the speed at which these seedlings have turned into an army of tentacles.
So, which grows faster, Kudzu or gourds?
Kudzu grows a foot a day, in Indiana at least, or as far as this guy who wrote about it invading Indiana is concerned:
Gourd aficionado Laurie says that her vines grow up to 3 feet per day, and since this is my blog, I choose to declare Laurie a genius expert and therefore gourd vines can outgrow Kudzu by a 3 to 1 margin.

I’m glad this is settled.

Staying true to my normal methods, I set up the rig previously described but only began to research gourds over the last couple of weeks once the vines came to life.

There are some interesting gourd-heads out there on the interweb who obviously really love growing them; one common denominator among them is that they offer a wide variety of tips often directly contradicting those of other gourd aficionados.

What did I learn from my modest gourd browsing efforts?

  • Gourds flowers open in the evening and close again in the morning.
  • Gourds are primarily water and are quite heavy on the vine, something that escaped me since all I have ever handled have already been dried.
  • To avoid rot over the curing/drying period, 2-3” of stem left must be left on the cut gourd.

Things vary considerably outside of the basics listed above.  For instance:

  • Gourds have shallow roots / gourds have robust roots with significant tap roots.
  • Night hawk moths are the primary pollinators and hand pollination is needed due to the delay in these moths’s arrival some seasons / beetles and bees pollinate gourds sufficiently to aid the moths.
  • Gourd vines do not respond well to pruning to bring under control / gourd vines should be capped by cutting the main lead after 10 or 15 feet to induce female flowering.
  • Gourds should be left on the vine to dry/gourds should be cut and brought in to dry
  • Gourds should be trellised since pest and rot reduce yield if allowed to remain on the ground / yields are better if grown on the ground so they shouldn’t be trellised.

I found that Gourd Societies abound and most have pretty informative websites
And the Alabama Gourd Society had a nice link page:

The one the vines get moving, they start reaching for anything and everything for a climbing anchor. Once the tentacle curls around whatever it can find, it turns into a spring that lifts the vines a bit and appears to provide some shock absorption to keep the little grabber from breaking off. This is my theory, and unlike Laurie above I don’t carry the credentials to declare it as internet fact.

The picture in the previous post was taken May 8th.
On the 23rd, the vines were gathering steam:

The pictures below were taken the same day and are an attempt to show some of the tentacles (I can’t seem to locate the real name for these) grabbing/coiling.

So where were the vines two weeks later (last weekend)?

A makeshift additional trellis was installed / designed (kind of in that order), but I’m now concerned that the weight of just one or two green 98%-water-on-the-vine gourds will collapse it without reinforcement. Ah, a project for a future evening….

Enough about gourds for today…….

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2010 10:23 am

    What are you going to do with the ‘meat’ from all those gourds? Is it edible or will you just compost it?

    Also, I think the word you are looking for is tendrils although tentacles may be more apt. LOL

    • June 22, 2010 11:09 am

      Then tendrils it is…..
      The gourds are the “birdhouse” or bottle variety. They may be edible but my intent is to dry any keepers over the winter and hang in the spring. With any luck I’ll have a better resident population of bug eaters next year.

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