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How Gourds Are Grown

Gourd Growing Info and Timeline

March:Gourds are planted after the previous year's crop has been harvested. Seeds germinate in 8-10 days.

These gourd plants are 6 weeks old.

April:Plants continue to grow and begin to set fruit.

At 10 weeks, the gourd vines have almost completely closed the gap
between rows. Some vines grow longer than 25 feet!

May-July:Most of the gourds that grow to maturity are pollinated during this time. The later in the season the gourd is pollinated, the less likely the chances that it will be mature enough to cure when the vine freezes in winter. (Gourds that have not matured will rot at that point).

Here is a female flower with the
small gourd fruit at the base.

May-November:This is the main growing period for the plants and gourds. The gourds that were the earliest to be pollinated will grow the largest in their respective size-classes. (For example, a mini gourd seed can never grow to be the size of a Giant gourd, but the first-pollinated will be the largest in the Mini-gourd class).

By August, many gourds are nearly mature.
Gourds are pale green in color and very
heavy like a pumpkin when they are growing.

Occasionally a very hot summer will weaken the gourd plants and "e;knock down"e; many of the broad leaves that serve to keep the gourds protected.

Whitewash serves to protect these exposed gourds.

When this happens, the entire Welburn Gourd Farm crew takes to the fields with buckets of whitewash to paint a protective, white shield on every exposed gourd. (The paint is water soluble, and what is not washed off in the winter rains comes off easily when the gourds are cleaned.)

Mid-November:First winter frost kills the gourd vines. Gourds are fully mature and now begin to dry (cure).

Gourd field just after frost has knocked down the vines.

Late November:Gourds can now be cut from the vines. There is no mechanical harvesting method. Every gourd must be cut from the vine by hand! (If you are growing gourds at home, you can cut your gourds from the vine as soon as the stem has begun to turn brown at the base).

Gourds just cut from the vine and placed in long rows,
called "e;windrows,"e; for drying.

At this stage the gourds will have often have big dark spots and almost look like they are rotting.

The waxy "e;skin"e; peeling away during drying.

The warm days and cold nights of Southern California's winter help break down the waxy cuticle layer on the outside of the gourd.

Gourds grown in other climate zones do not have this advantage and the waxy skin hardens on the gourd as it dries and takes hours of scrubbing to remove! One of the reasons Welburn Gourds are so popular is because they are so easy to clean -- just scrub off the dirt and mold and you're done!

The Southern California weather is also what contributes to the dark colorations and beautiful, natural markings that make Welburn Gourds so popular.

The natural markings gives a gourd its own unique "e;personality,"e; and gourd artists search to find the most beautiful markings, which they feel will inspire their designs.

November-February:It takes approximately four months for the gourds to dry. To keep the gourds from cracking and to ensure even drying, every gourd is picked up and individually turned by hand 2-3 times during the drying season!

To give you an idea what this involved, it takes a crew of 5 men working all day for 2 weeks just to turn the crop one time!

By late February, most of the gourds are dry and ready to be harvested.

March - Harvest Time:The gourds are brought in from the fields and piled in the gourd racks for customers to purchase.

The gourds in racks under the oak trees -- not only protects them
from the sun, but you as well while you are shopping!

The Farm closes for 2 weeks during harvest time in order to bring in the new crop. In the past, the farm remained open during this time, but gourd-lovers were so anxious to get their hands on the new crop, they were pulling them out of the trailer before we could get them in the racks!

Eager crowd pulling gourds from the trailer.

Once all the racks are full, the farm re-opens. The first day the new crop is made available to the public is called Opening Day, and it is one of the most exciting days of the year for gourd lovers! There's food, drink, gourd demos, and tons of fun!

Be sure to sign up on themailing listto receive a post card invitation to attend Opening Day!

End of March:The gourd fields are plowed and prepared for the next season's planting.

Between bringing in the new harvest, notifying everyone about Opening Day, and planting the new crop, March is a VERY busy month here at the farm!

To learn more about the farm,click here!

More Information:

For further information about gourds, a great online resource is theAmerican Gourd Society. Visit there web sitehere!

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