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General information and discussion about cultivating melons, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and gourds.

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Old March 7, 2018   #16
Zeedman
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Fig leaf gourd is a.k.a. Shark Fin Melon, there are some interesting recipes under that name. Although the squash did not mature here, I did get several large immature squash, and was able to try one of the shark fin melon soups... it was quite good. Not good enough for me to grow it again, though; there are tons of things that would make better use of such a large space. I probably got more use out of the vine tips, which while slightly bitter, were not bad.

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Originally Posted by habitat_gardener View Post
Zeedman, I'm curious why chayote was the most interesting and rewarding vegetable you've ever grown.
To start with, just the novelty. I was living in San Jose at the time, my starts came from a Bay area Master Gardener, who was growing a rather spiny - but large fruited - type. As I recall, I had a guide to growing chayote at the time (I think it was from UC Davis) which was helpful. It was unusual to plant the whole fruit (I started the first two as transplants) and watch the vines emerge vigorously from below. The site took special preparation; I erected a large horizontal trellis (about 10' X 30') 6 feet above the ground, with one plant on each end, and strings to get the first shoots started upwards. The vines spread quickly & completely covered the trellis, we put lawn chairs underneath to enjoy the shade.

Blooming came very late in the summer, when the growth was dense - and the entire plant broke into bloom at once. The squash followed, hanging down below the trellis as they grew larger - really easy to find & pick from below. That first year we "only" had about 25 squashes per plant... and we let them get much larger than market chayote. They were much sweeter too, almost melon-like; we cooked a lot of them peeled & cubed as a vegetable, much more delicious than zucchini.

Part of the novelty was that chayote is a perennial squash - and it gets stronger in successive seasons. The second year the vines were much more vigorous... we had to extend the trellis width to 20', the vines still overran it & leaped the fence onto the neighbor's shrubbery (they let them grow when I told them they would be getting a lot of squash). We had over 100 squash that year, and were giving them away like zucchini. In Year 3 (the last year before we moved to San Diego), we had over 150 squash from the two plants! The sight of all those squashes hanging below the trellis was incredible.

The young shoots in Spring, and the roots (if you choose to dig them) are also edible. We tried the shoots (which were good), but never wanted to risk disturbing the roots.

The vines, once started, needed very little care (except to turn them back once they reached the edge of the trellis), and had no problems with bugs or diseases. Last year was a good one here for cucuzzi, and the vines, when loaded, were an impressive sight... but they are nowhere as rewarding, or as versatile, as chayote. It would take a heated hoop house here to extend the season enough to grow chayote, but I have been seriously considering it. I doubt the roots would survive the long dormancy of our winters, though.

Last edited by Zeedman; March 7, 2018 at 01:56 AM.
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Old March 8, 2018   #17
tarpalsfan
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Originally Posted by Ann123 View Post
No, not nosy :-)
I haven't. Gourds aren't 'usual' here. I have seen them in ethnic shops or museums but that is about it.
The reason I ask if you have crafted gourds before, not to be an old hen, and not to scare you, but those dried gourd shells are hard and smooth, even though I have enjoyed crafting gourds for quite awhile, I have to admit that I have cut the...( add vulgar exclamation here )...out of myself. And there might be dust...outside will take care of that.
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Stuff awaits inside the gourd too. Spongy white,satiny...stuff...and more grainy stuff that the seeds grew on. Luckily, since your making bird houses, that 'stuff' can stay inside your gourds, the birds don't care. Just shake out most of the seeds. (Save some seeds to replant.) Don't forget to drill holes to hang your masterpieces! Some drill a couple of holes in the bottom of the birdhouses for drainage, and maybe for the perch. I don't bother with the perch unless I enter a gourd in the local fair.
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Gourd crafts are fun. The gourds last forever too! Despite the above, I just don't want anyone to get hurt.
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Look up Ginger Summit's: The Complete Book of Gourd Craft. Even if you never craft a gourd, this book is beautiful. I bet you can find it at the Library. I am not trying to sell anything, just mentioning a cool book.
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Old March 8, 2018   #18
tarpalsfan
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Can I be nosy too ;-)?
The mini gourds you mention, are they the cute miniature gourds that are sold on the not trustable Chinese shops (https://goo.gl/images/Htc4CW)?
I always assumed they were fake. I've seen them on Pinterest too.
Are they really that small?
There really are some tiny gourds. I sometimes grow Tennessee Spinner/Dancing gourds. They are Cucurbit Pepo-it is tiny, about 2 inches. And dries easily. I use them for Halloween crafts.
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Thank you for the link. Those are indeed real gourds. I have in front of me Quarry Farm Gourds latest catalog. Those little gourds in the photo are probably Mini Nigerian gourds! I have Quarry Farms new catalog. The 'Sub Minis" are in there. I tried a couple of packs of "Sub's" that I bought at Silver Dollar City, they didn't germinate. However, Quarry Farms is a good company, owned by Jung's now, I think. I will try again.
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Try the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They aren't expensive like the Sub Minis. You can get the seed for the Dancers at The Sand Hill Preservation Center. $2.50 a pack. Baker Creek has them too. I don't have any seed, or I'd give you some. I might just buy a pack, if I do, I will p.m. you. If you can grow bottles you can grow dancers.
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