Speaking of Gourds

Gaggle of Gourds (mixed seeds) Lagenaria siceraria
"The Lagenaria, or hard-shelled group of gourds produce white blossoms and are green on the vine, turning brown or tan with thick, hard shells when dry. Birdhouse, also called Bottle Gourd, is still used in Mexico and other areas to make water bottles. Calabash, sometimes called 'Penguin', is used in Japan to make pipes. Corsican is a flattened round uniform shape which is ideal for bowls and lidded containers. Dipper not only scoops water, but is a clever potted plant container. Speckled Swan is stunning in a fall centerpiece and a multitude of other craft projects."

Gourds typically take 120-150 days to mature, a fact I obviously overlooked when I purchased the seeds a few years ago. (Pretty packaging will do that to you). Growing them in my zone is challenging even in a good year. Starting them indoors is an absolute must.

The mixed seeds produced 4 'Birdhouse' and 3 'Dipper' gourds. The little 'Speckled Swan' (middle, right) didn't make it, I'm afraid (container tragedy #41).

They seem to be drying out nicely. I picked them 3 days ago and left them outside to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. The weather's been stellar this week. I'll bring them in shortly to complete the drying process. Crafting can begin, in a few months time, once they're fully cured.

I ♥ cucurbits.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

100 Plants That Almost Changed The World

is a recent publication by Chris Beardshaw. (You might remember him from a video I posted last year entitled Apples: British to the core. To my delight, the Chelsea Flower Show veteran joined the Beechgrove Garden team this year). It's a fun read. Light and informative with beautiful artwork.

My loofahs didn't thrive, sorry. These gourds will have to do. :P

Here's an excerpt of the book:

"The Loufah, commonly seen as a washing aid and skin exfoliant in showers and bathrooms is related to the Cucumber. Two species Luffa acutangula and L. aegyptiaca are grown for their long, crisp fruits that perfectly resemble their more familiar cousin. Originally grown and cooked in Asia and Africa for its nutritious and jaundice-resisting properties, it is more profitable now to allow fruits to mature before processing to remove all the tissue except the network of xylem cells, producing the bathroom Loufah.

Research has recently concentrated on the apparent natural antibacterial properties of the tissue in the production of fine grade air filters."

Chris Beardshaw - Making magazine - Crafts Institute


Missing from the lineup this season are Yard Long, Sequoia, Lima and yellow varieties, having succumbed to weather or slugs. Unfortunately for them, that was the last of the seed stock (this was going to be a seed-saving year). I sowed more Trionfo Violetto and Kentucky Wonder as replacements and got a glut of those.

Black Russian broad bean sizing up, mid July

Kentucky Wonder, mid July

Trionfo Violetto, mid August

The beans started cropping in mid July. By mid August, I had Trionfos coming out my ears. Shifting this neglected overgrown lot wasn't easy (snork). Subsequent production was left on the vine to dry.

Dragon Tongue, Southern Cowpeas and Alabama Black Eyed Butterbeans were wiped out as well but two of my Cranberries survived.

'Borlotti' bean, a Cranberry member

True Red Cranberry bean,
a Québec/New England heirloom, acquired last season

Dried beans, a modest harvest
L to R: Borlotti & Runner, True Red Cranberry,
dried Trionfo Violetto & other 'green' beans


True Red Cranberry history