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Copyright 2014 Johnny’s Selected Seeds. All rights reserved. SEED BREEDERS, GROWERS, AND MERCHANTS SINCE 1973 GROWING & CRAFTING GOURDS 955 Benton Ave., Winslow, ME 04901  Phone: 1 - 877 - 564 - 6697  Fax: 1 - 800 - 738 - 6314 Email:  Web Site: J Gourds are divided into two classes: Hard - shell and Ornamental. Hard - shells ( Lagenaria siceraria ) become very hard and dry, and with reasonable care will last indefinitely. Some examples are bottle, dumbbell, kettle, powder

horn, dipper, club, birdhouse, canteen, and bushel. Hard - shells have delicate, white flowers that bloom at night. These gourds do not fea ture bright colors but have interesting shapes. Usually they are solid green or mottled green and white in color before they are dry. Ornamentals ( Cucurbita pepo ) are usually smaller than hard - shells. They are very colorful and come in all sizes and shape s. They may be warty or smooth skinned. Ornamentals have blossoms that are yellow like their close relatives, squash and pumpkins. . Growing Requirements Most gourds are in the

Cucurbitae family along with pumpkins, melon, squash, and cucumbers. Because o f this, they all have similar growing requirements. Start with good seed. You can save them from your own choice gourds or purchase them. If you save your own, keep in mind that gourds can cross pollinate. Unless the plants are isolated, the fruits you ge t may be quite different from the parent gourd. Choose a sunny, well - drained site. If the gourds are to grow on the ground, give them lots of room to sprawl. Gourds also thrive if grown on trellises. Grown off the ground, the fruit will have more

uniform color and stand a better chance of escaping insect damage. Some growers spread brush on the ground for the ornamental gourd vines to climb over. Large, hard - shelled gourds require a very sturdy trellis, as their fruit can be quite heavy. Plant the seeds a s soon as all danger of frost is past. Plant about eight seeds to a hill to allow for poor germination or for accidents. If you are planting a mix of seeds, keep the seed size uniform in each hill. Extra seedlings can be transplanted; leaving three plants in hills about 6 feet apart. Seeds should be planted at a

depth equal to two times the length of the seed. In some northern areas, where the season is short, starting the seed inside is recommended. This is especially true for hard - shell gourds, which take 125 or more days to mature. Use peat pots or large - celled plug flats when starting the plants inside to keep root disturbance to a minimum during transplanting. Gourds are heavy feeders. To produce a good crop you need highly fertilized soil, well suppli ed with all the major nutrients. The preferred pH is 6.0 to 8.0. A light supplement of liquid seaweed sprayed on the foliage

every 2 weeks during the growing season will enhance growth. When the vines are 8 - 10’ long, prune the end to encourage the vine to branch. The branched vine will produce more gourds. Insects such as Cucumber beetles, Leafhoppers, Mexican Bean beetles, Squash bugs, Squash Vine Borers, and Thrips may affect gourds as they do other members of the Cucurbit family. When spraying or dustin g for insects, be sure to spray underneath the leaves as well as on top. A hole that oozes moisture will show the presence of a borer. Sometimes it is possible to slit the vine carefully and

cut out the borer, then cover the vine with wet soil. As a precau tion, putting soil over one or two joints of the vine near the root will encourage new roots to grow and may save the plant should the borer get too close to the original root. Other insect or disease problems can be diagnosed by using a good garden refere nce book. Copyright 2014 Johnny’s Selected Seeds. All rights reserved. SEED BREEDERS, GROWERS, AND MERCHANTS SINCE 1973 Harvesting and Curing Hard - shells: These gourds require a long season of growth. Leave them in the garden as long as

there is any life left in the vine. Frost and even freezing will not hurt the gourds. Cure the gourds thoroughly outdoors on pallets or screens. Some hard - shells grow very large and may take months to dry. If they wrinkle, get soft, or shrivel they should be discarded. As long as they remain hard, they can be saved. They may develop some mold, but don’t throw them away. The mold is normal and it creates an attractive mottled pattern on the shell after the gourd is completely dry. When totally dry, the gourds will be light and the seeds will rattle. Soak the gourds in

warm water for about an hour, then scrub off the rough, moldy outer skin with a pot scrubber. Care must be taken not to scratch the surface underneath. After all the skin has been removed, scrub in soapy water with a fine steel wool. If rough spots remain, go over the surface with extra fine sandpaper. Polishing with floor wax will bring out the natural color. They are then ready for use in crafts. Ornamentals: These gourds should be gathered when they ripen as they lose their color if left in the sun. You can tell they are ripe by examining the vine. There is a tend ril on

the vine next to each gourd. When this tendril and the stem of the vine have turned brown, the gourd is ready for harvest. At this time it should feel hard. Be careful not to bruise the gourd. Handle the newly gathered gourds carefully. Cut the stem with a sharp knife or clippers, leaving about two inches of stem for character. Harvest all ornamentals before frost or they will be ruined. Wash thoroughly in a solution of non - bleaching disinfectant, such as vinegar or a weak Lysol solution. After they have been in the house for a week or so and have had a chance to dry, they

can be polished with floor wax. The wax brings out the color and helps to preserve them. Shellac and varnish are sometimes used. Do not prick the gourds to hasten drying as it may cause infection to start. Some gourds that are not mature or have defects will get soft and begin to spoil. They should be discarded. Others will stay nice well into the winter. Try to keep them out of direct sunlight as it fades the colors. Crafting Tr eat your hard - shell gourds like wood. You can drill, file, chisel, carve, stain, and paint them. When you cut your gourd open to remove the

seeds and dried pulp, pour water inside and then drain to keep the acrid dust from getting up your nose. To make a gourd birdhouse, drill a 2 ⅛ " entrance hole on one side of your gourd. Drill 6 or 7 drainage holes about " wide in the bottom as well. Drill two more " wide holes at the top for hanging. Then drill four holes, " wide, about 2 " below the top for ventilati on. Next, scoop out as many seeds as you can. Then paint the outside with clear polyurethane or white high - gloss enamel paint. Hang 10 - 20 ft. high in an area near your home. For more

ideas on crafting gourds, refer to The Complete Book of Gourd Craft, ite m #9686, written by Jim Widess and Ginger Summit. If you are interesting in learning more about gourds you may want to become a member in the following society: American Gourd Society Box 274 Mt. Gilead, OH 43338 REV 06/12/2014 kd /rc

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