Gourds have the same general habit of growth as pumpkins and
squashes and should have the same general cultural treatment,
except that most species require some form of support or trellis
to climb upon.
Gourds are used in making dippers, spoons, ladles, salt and
sugar containers, and many other kinds of household utensils. They
are also used for birdhouses and the manufacture of calabash
pipes. But they are of interest chiefly because of their
ornamental and decorative possibilities (Fig. 19). The
thin-shelled, or hard drying, gourds are the most durable and are
the ones that most commonly serve as decorations.
The thick-fleshed gourds are more in the nature of pumpkins and
squashes, and are almost as perishable. The thin-shelled gourds of
the Lagenaria group are gathered and cured at the time the shells
begin to harden, the fruits become lighter in weight, and the
tendrils on the vines near the gourds begin to shrivel and dry.
For best results, give the gourds plenty of time to cure.
Some kinds require 6 months or a year to cure. The
thick-shelled gourds of the Cucurbita group are more difficult to
cure than the thin shelled ones. Their beauty is of short
duration; they usually begin to fade after 3 or 4 months. All
types of gourds should be handled carefully. Bruises discolor them
and cause them to soften and decay.
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