Gourds are consumed by a majority of Indian families. This is because of its wide availability and low price tag. However, it is not just these factors that make it well-used; they are nutritionally rich and help in maintaining general health. Gourds are low in cholesterol and high in dietary fibers and vitamins. Most gourds have 90% water content that makes the body cool. Just to give a few examples of the uses, watermelon helps to beat the scorching summer. Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps to reduce constipation. Bitter gourd adds years to your life by giving longevity. Gourds are a good way to lose weight but don’t eat too much if you are interested in gaining weight.
Gourds could be grown easily in your home garden. From the large list of gourds you can choose from, cucumber, bitter gourd, snake gourd, pumpkin, watermelon, bottle gourd, ash gourd and ridge gourd are a few. Gourds grow vigorously. One consideration before growing gourds is that it needs a large area to spread its vines. If you have enough space in your garden, make trellis and train the plants to grow onto the trellis. Or you could grow them on the garden fence. At every turn that the vine takes, tie a soft string to trail the plant. Gourds like Pumpkin and Watermelon needs space on the ground to grow. It would be hard to grow them on a trellis as the fruit size is big and would need adequate support to hold the fruits.
All gourds can be grown by direct sowing. If you grow them on the ground, make a pit of size 1’1’1’ at a 2 m spacing. Generally the germination percentage of gourds seeds are less. So put 3-4 seeds per pit and 15 days after sowing retain 1 or 2 healthy plants and remove the others. The plants need regular watering. Provide stakes of 2m height and train the plant to climb the stakes/trellis. Gourds start to flower at 40-45 days after sowing and produce separate male and female flowers. Male flowers serve as the pollinator and female flowers bear fruit. The female flower can be distinguished by the presence of the immature fruit at its base. Several male flowers are produced much before any female flowers appear, and they drop without setting fruit. When the male and female flowers sync in their blooming that’s when the fruit will set.
Gourds depend on insects such as bees and beetles for pollination. Hand pollination or manual pollination will increase the fruit set. Hand pollination simply involves shaking or tapping pollen from the male flower onto the female flower. Hand pollination will also improve the germination percentage of the gourd seeds. Gourds generally will produce the first yield of fruit after 60 days from sowing. The fruit yield goes on at regular intervals up to 2-3 months. On the other hand, cucumber is an early maturing crop. It yields at 45-50 days after sowing and an average of 5-6 harvests can be done. Pumpkin and Ash gourd will yield after 60 days from sowing. Bitter gourd and snake gourd will yield after 70-75 days. However, these numbers can vary based on varieties and climate.
Gourd crafting is a fun activity. After harvest, dry the bottle gourd fruits. With this you could make your own craft by painting, plain finishing, varnishing or carving on the dried pods. So start to grow your favorite gourds it will make a great positive impact on your domestic gardening by its enormous health benefits.