Suddenly gourds!
October 7, 2012 8:13 PM   Subscribe

What sort of success rate would one have growing gourds by just leaving gourds outside to do what they will?

I know that obviously this is how Mother Nature does it more or less...but I wonder if anyone does it on purpose?

I'd like to grow gourds randomly....can I just buy a bunch of pumpkins and gourds and randomly distribute then and expect some to come to...umm....fruition? I realize the success rate might be crap but I am not looking to have a pumpkin patch per se, just some random pumpkins (and gourds).

Have you ever tried anything like this on purpose? With pumpkins or anything else? Results?


(PS midwest if it matters. zone...3?)
posted by ian1977 to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
"can I just buy a bunch of pumpkins and gourds and randomly distribute then and expect some to come to...umm....fruition?"

Probably! We have a lot of "volunteer" gourds in particularly composty areas of the yard -- like the actual compost pile, or where we let some leaves mulch over the winter to kill the grass, or where leaves blow and collect under a bush or in a fence corner, places like that. No idea how much of that is forgotten gourds from long runner vines that escaped the vegetable garden and how much of that squirrels forgetting where they left seeds and how much of that is me kicking a pumpkin in half so squirrels can more easily eat the guts so I don't have to clean it up come spring.

You can buy mixed-seed gourd seed packets, though, for like $1.29. Scatter and be surprised.

(Also, the volunteer gourds are always the kind-of lame-looking ones. Never the cool ones! Murphy's Gourd Law, I guess.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:38 PM on October 7, 2012

Happens all the time at my place, what with compost being ladled here and there and birds moving seeds around. A volunteer in a good spot - by which I mean one that gets some water from the irrigation system - will generally produce a few squashes or pumpkins or gourds. A lot of these I would not try to eat - butternut squash in particular can get intensely bitter if they grow in the wrong spot - but the gourds can be nice looking and they dry fine.
posted by jet_silver at 8:41 PM on October 7, 2012

The quality of your soil, when you scatter them (how much rain there is) etc will all be factors here.

Assuming a decent amount of rain and planting at the right time of year in decent-to-good soil, you may be surprised at how successfull this strategy will be. Home compost is generally well known as a pumpkin-and-tomato distribution mechanism.
posted by smoke at 8:43 PM on October 7, 2012

Yes, the compost-heap pumpthing is almost a certainty. They fiercely want to live and reproduce.

Know that pumpkin / squash / gourds will happily cross-pollinate with each other, so if you scoop the seeds from a random store-bought acorn squash and plant them, you've no guarantee that they will grow into an acorn squash vine. It's likely, given that your donor squash was probably grown in an agribusiness monoculture, but it's no certainty. It could be that you'd wind up with a yellow crookneck / acorn cross, which could be terrible eatin'. Might be interesting to look at, though. The miscegenation will continue through the generations, with each successive year more likely to yield bizarre fruits. Could be good, could be bad, depending on what you're looking for in a random gourden.
posted by mumkin at 10:01 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pretty much. This year for my squash harvests I planted bought seeds, saved seed and had a few volunteers - all sprawled (some got to 10ft+ length vines), all produced fruit. Some grew in high raised beds, some in low and my zucchini grew happily in compost and some old tyres we have lying around. I'm of the opinion that squash types are the easiest to grow, and you've got very little to lose by experimenting. My advice would be to find a spot with some irrigation and good sun, dig it over a little and plant 1-3 seeds per spot.
posted by saturnine at 10:18 PM on October 7, 2012

we once knocked over a rotten pumpkin from our deck into the garden below and didn't bother cleaning it up. Much later (forget how much later, it was a long time ago) we had a pumpkin or two grow in that spot.
posted by saraindc at 2:49 AM on October 8, 2012

Your success rate on a per-gourd basis will be fine, but on a per-seed basis it's pretty poor. That is to say, if you take the gourd, get all the seeds out and cure them, and then plant those in a more traditional manner, you will get lots and lots of gourd plants from that one gourd of seeds, whereas with this method you will only get a few gourd plants per gourd of seeds.
posted by anaelith at 8:16 AM on October 8, 2012

(Also, the volunteer gourds are always the kind-of lame-looking ones. Never the cool ones! Murphy's Gourd Law, I guess.)

This is probably because the really fancy gourds are carefully produced hybrids, and the next generation reverts to the boring old species.

Pumpkins will likely be the most ordinary medium-sized orange ones.

Pricewise, a few packets of seeds will be a better value.
posted by purpleclover at 9:03 AM on October 8, 2012

My friend, who grows lots and lots and lots of gourds, says that they will grow in the fashion you describe, but only when the soil is 60 degrees or warmer.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2012

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