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Gourd vine decline II, with pictures

August 12, 2010

As I was considering adding these gourds to the mix last winter, I searched the web for some decent pictures of the vine’s growth habits. I found a fair number but mainly they were shots of farmhouses and fences covered in what might as well have been kudzu.
I really was more curious about the cycle of the vines and gourds themselves as there were plenty of descriptive black and white print ag/extension bulletins but few worthwhile pictures. Maybe they are out there somewhere but I got tired of filtering through the hundreds or thousands of gourd “art” sites that the searches pulled up – lots of interesting carved and painted gourds but not at all what I was looking for at the time.

You might sense that I am setting you up for a gourd garden picture mega-post.

You would be right, although “mega” might be a little of an exaggeration.

OK, so I followed the suggestion of BackYardFreshFoods (with a name like that, who wouldn’t?) and cut the withered vine in a couple of places this morning to test the fluid viscosity of what oozed out. I wouldn’t call it conclusive but I didn’t get the sticky or stringy consistency I was expecting. I still think this to be a bacterium wilt case after reading more last night but it really doesn’t matter at this point- I can’t stop or slow the wilt in the afflicted vines, so I will keep them all well watered and see how the gourds that are left hanging on the dead vines fare.

Ok, now for the pictures:

Closer shot of the giant wilted void in yesterday’s post:

Close up of one of the wilted vine branches (this is a dairy cow manure compost pile that has composted down to 1/4 of its original mass- ready for bed replenishing this fall.

A shot from back beside the tower along the fence. The green parts of the vine beyond the wilted area is actually another vine planted in the compost pile in the corner of the yard; it is younger and just now really “launching”.)

The trellis netting area also was hit- these are the far reaches of the vines going the other way on the other side of the tower from the area above:

And finally, some leaves that display spots that match the description in the bulletins of squash bug damage.

Not a “mega” picture post but hopefully some other ambitious garden fool will find these next winter, when they are wondering what gourd vines are really like and whether they want to give it a shot.

Thanks for the previous comments and suggestions; I’m really curious now about whether the “mature” gourds are actually developed enough to dry and work with this winter. We’ll see, but I think most are in good shape.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 10:25 pm

    Now that I see a close up it looks an awful lot like downy mildew.

  2. August 12, 2010 10:48 pm

    As dry as it has been here I figured that wasn’t probable but maybe so. When I have seen it it was more powdery (summer squash last year) and didn’t seem to have the “trauma” in the center of the spots like these do.
    Maybe I have both- I wouldn’t doubt for a minute that all plantings in my garden are capable of being overachievers in the disease category.

  3. August 12, 2010 10:54 pm


    Out of respect for Mrs c I removed one of the pictures since it showed the mess behind a storage “corral” fence I built to hide my garden construction junk and supplies.

    I see gourds, she sees junk behind the gourds. That’s why this marriage has worked so for 26 years well i guess. 😉

  4. Sheila permalink
    August 13, 2010 1:05 am

    Hi there,

    I had all the problems you did and more. My whole crop of gourds ended up with powdery mildew, so I chopped off every single leaf on every vine ……….looked pretty much like a skeleton!, but it worked no harm done and they finished out the season with quite a bounty.

    • August 13, 2010 6:10 am

      LOL mine appear to be striving for the skeleton look without me having to trim leaves. Actually your experience is good news to me; i expect most of mine will survive and be usable.
      Thanks for posting.

  5. August 13, 2010 2:18 pm

    The powdery stuff you mentioned earlier was probably powdery mildew. Downy mildew is different. Look at the link below and compare to your vines.

    • August 14, 2010 6:39 am

      Powdery downy, downy powdery….

      I originally searched “powdery”, now that you clarified for me (it takes more than one try usually 🙂 ) I looked up the right thing “downy” and agree, it does look very similar.

      Still, the conditions have been pretty decent as this has appeared- mostly dry, very hot and the gourd fence gets the late sun every day and really gets toasted before dusk.

      I’ve listened to Mike McGrath for too long now to try any sort of anti-fungal treatment; he may be over the top on the downside of those (or not) but at this point I am hesitant.

  6. August 14, 2010 6:54 am

    Jack turned us on to a product called Serenade. It isn’t a chemical antifungal. Like BT, it’s a bacterium that infects and destroys spores. It’s organic and we have really had great results with it. Our blueberry bushes that were being destroyed by leafspot have made a great come back. See our last two Weekly Gardening Outlooks for pictures.

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