Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) obtained its common name because the mature gourds function as vessels or bottles when dried and hollowed. Bottle gourds are available in various shapes, however, the most familiar is that the dumbbell-shape, featuring two around bulbs separated by a narrow belt. The gourds could be eaten if harvested while young and tender. Unlike other gourds using yellow blooms, members of the genus Lagenaria develop white flowers up to 4 inches in diameter and gourds develop from the female blossoms. Trellises enable you to grow more plants in a little space and provide support for the heavy gourds.
Till the soil at a straight row to a depth of approximately 8 inches. Add several inches of organic material, like compost, manure, leaf mould or sphagnum peat, to add nutrients to the soil, enhance drainage and improve structure. Choose a site that receives full sun to partial shade. Wait until mid to late spring to begin plants outdoors when the soil temperature is over 70 degrees Fahrenheit; you could start seeds indoors six weeks earlier.
Collect the soil into 12-inch tall mounds spaced 9 feet apart along the row. Tighter spacing is acceptable when a trellis is used, but supplying 9 feet of space prevents vines from tangling.
Put in a hardy hog wire trellis along the bottle gourd row. Drive 8-foot metal T-posts 2 feet to the ground, spaced 16 feet apart, and then attach 4-by-16-foot hog cable panels to the poles with 16-gauge cable. Stack two panels at the top of another to pay for the 8-foot fence poles. It is possible to set up the trellis before planting, if needed, or no later than when the plants reach approximately 6 inches tall.
Plant four to five seeds evenly spaced from the mounds and cap with approximately 1 1/2 inches of soil. Water the mound frequently to keep the soil moist and encourage germination. When seedlings develop two sets of leaves, thin the plants to depart only the sole healthiest plant in each mound.
Water that the bottle gourd plants consistently to maintain the soil moist so gourds develop big. During times of summer drought, plants may need daily watering or a minimum of once per week watering. Reduce watering in late summer following the gourds have evolved and wait for the gourds to mature on the vines.
Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer as a side dressing around the plants every two to three weeks, replacing the regular water supply using water mixed with water-soluble fertilizer. As an alternative, you can spread nutrient-rich, finished compost over the soil around plants. Regular fertilization promotes vigorous development, but should be limited in late summer to encourage the developing tissues to harden off.
Bend the ends of the vines loosely into the trellis, using old nylon pantyhose or T-shirt strips, since the vines grow and can get to the trellis. Wait until the vine grows long enough it can readily get to the trellis without pulling on the vine. As the vines continue to grow, tie the ends higher upon the trellis. It is also possible to bend the vine ends in and from cable grid for support.
Bend nylons or T-shirt strips beneath vines that encourage developing bottle gourds and tie the ends into your trellis, providing additional support to the heavy gourds so they don’t slip off the vine or chew down the vine.
Harvest the gourds in first autumn or to late autumn, if wanted. Bottle gourds tolerate light frost, so you can depart the gourds on the vine much later than other gourds. You can also harvest young gourds, which appear after the flowers wither about 60 days after planting, even should you would like to utilize the gourds for cooking. Cut the gourd in the vine with bypass pruners, leaving an inch or two of stem attached to the top of the gourd.
Store gourds to dry in a cool, dry place for several weeks or until they are lightweight with a tough rind. Leave space between the gourds so air can circulate around all sides. When they are dry, you can paint the gourds or drill a 2-inch-diameter hole at one side to make a birdhouse.