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GourdGourds 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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