pepperhead212
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Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I haven't seen our Indian friends here for a while, but I thought that maybe some others had tried them. I am trying them for the first time, looking for something that I can harvest immature, and use in place of summer squash, which I simply can not grow, due to SVBs.

I am growing two varieties - both hybrids - one Indian Long, and the other, Dhol, a shorter variety. They are growing in a large SIP, and growing crazy! The only problem I am having, which is probably a temporary problem, is that the Dhol has a large number of female flowers, with only a few males, and the first ones to open were the females, so the fruits will not develop much past the 2-3" they start out at. Most squash have a bunch of male flowers first! I finally found a male flower almost developed, so I opened it up, and attempted to hand pollinate the females from it, using a Q-tip. I'll find out if it works. Today, I saw a male opened up early on (one problem - these are night blossomers, unlike most squash that I've seen), so maybe they'll get to normal soon. The Indian long doesn't have any that I've seen opened yet, but both are LOADED with blossoms. And both have at least 4 new vines running off of the main vines. I'm wondering if the tendrils are edible, as with sweet peas, as they are there in huge numbers!

I started the seeds in jiffy pellets on 4-28 (the only thing i use jiffy pellets for - starting cucurbits just briefly before putting them out), and here is how large they got by 5-20:
ImageDSCF0636 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

8 days later, the long was 3 1/2' up the trellis:
ImageDSCF0656 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

5 days later, 2 1/2' higher, with new vines:
ImageDSCF0668 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

6 days later, on 6-8, with the long variety going down the left side, and both with at least 3 more vines. While the leaves look sort of wilted, I think it's just due to the fact that they are very thin, and sort of collapse under their own weight. These, and a few eggplant leaves, were the only ones damaged by some hail a while back:
ImageDSCF0678 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Here was the first flower, on 6-5. First cucurbit I have seen with a white flower, giving it the name "white flowered squash", in one of the regions where it is grown.
ImageDSCF0670 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

As you can see, this has not been stunted by cool weather, at least I don't think! lol My peppers and okra (and eggplants, at first) are very slow this season, due to very cool nights, even though May was warmer than normal in this area! and the one bitter melon was slow, but starting to take off now. I have 3 SIPs covered with Agribon, and the peppers are twice as large in those, I assume due to the warmth. Have you been noticing this Apple? Your a little farther N than me, so it seems like it would be worse there.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I have not heard of the varieties of squash you have. We do have calabash gourds or hercules war clubs. Most bottle gourds are not grown here because of fruit flies. The bottle gourds were usually grown to be made into musical instruments or containers.

The calabash gourds can be round or long. Hairy ones are called hyotan or opo and are a type of bottle gourd. The smooth one is considered to be a long calabash. Wax gourds are called Chinese winter melon and it is usually made into soup.

The gourds look a lot like the leaves you have. They thrive in hot weather and the vines can get to be 50 ft long. They can be trained on a fence or allowed to sprawl on the ground. They will climb trees and anything nearby. Usually, the flowers are white. I do usually see male flowers first then the female ones. I read somewhere that the temperature and daylight hours determine which flowers come out. I don't know if the flowers are night blooming. I do know they open up early in the morning and close up by mid day. They are pollinated by carpenter bees here since we do not have squash bees. Honey bees do visit but they are often late comers. Ants and beetles may be pollinators as well. Gourds are very productive and produce 20-40 squash per vine. They will grow 3+ feet but they will be too seedy and tough to eat then. Those are usually kept for the seeds. The ideal size is 10-12 inches. The flesh will be tender and the seeds will be small. You can eat squash between 2-3 ft but the seeds will be bigger. Soil should be rich in organic matter and here we need a lot of phosphorus, but our soils tend to bind phosphorus so we do have to overload it on purpose. Mine is really high in phosphorus so I am actually leaching mine instead.

Squash is usually made into chicken or pork with squash soup, or stir fried with onions, tomatoes, garlic, and bagaong (fish paste) or patis (fish sauce). It is an ingredient in Filipino sari sari, and diningding. The squash itself does not have a lot of flavor but will pick up flavors from the other ingredients it is cooked with.

https://www.kitazawaseed.com/seeds_gourd.html
https://blog.suzi-pratt.com/recipe-grand ... c-chicken/
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Funny, pepperhead212 — I’ve been complaining about the weirdly cold temperatures and how slow the garden is to start taking off in the weather thread. :D (It was actually 45°F here just before dawn :roll: )

I’ve grown the Hyotan-type or small birdhouse gourds before. Beautiful white flowers. Also bushel gourds which has white flowers. So I thought all true gourds have white flowers but luffah flowers are yellow.

As it happens, I received seeds labeled “Botelya Heirloom Squash” from Philippines in trade. I tried to look it up but all I was getting were bottle cap images, until I finally found reference to “Bottle squash” and the description that it has night blooming white flowers made me think (might be gourd). I won’t know what these turn out like until later, but I assumed they are to be eaten immature/summer squash substitute and have planted them with Tatume squash(also received in trade to try for its SVB resistance) — it sounds like I need to build them a BIG•STURDY trellis. :o

The night blooming white gourd blossoms attract night feeding big moths ... yes this means increased hornworm activity. So be prepared. I planted mine in the NE Sunflower House bed next to the Spiral Garden planted in tomatoes this year, but I’m seeing considerable bird activity including Cardinals already looking for goodies to feed a little orange tag-along fledgling in these garden beds, so I’m pretty confident that there will be sufficient Garden Patrol.


:idea:) I think I will try covering those beds, too, pepperhead212. That will probably help. :-()
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Thanks for all of the info. These are varieties of calabash squash. I tried some hairy melons years ago; a different species, which quickly succumbed to disease, but these are supposed to be relatively resistant to those diseases.

What kind of hornworm should I be looking out for, Apple? Something on the gourds, or other plants?
Last edited by pepperhead212 on Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Tomatoes and peppers. I think the gourd blossoms attract the moths to your garden whether they actually feed or not.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

If the seeds were from P.I. then it is more likely to be Opo/Hyotan type squash. Round gourds are also popular there. They taste about the same, it just has a different shape.

I did not know about the moth pollinators. I only see the bees in the early morning. I do have moths that do come around and a big black one that lives in my garage. I actually have not seen a tomato hornworm in years and usually all I find on squash leaves are whiteflies. Insect activity usually drops off in the heat of summer and that may be why I don't see a lot of insect activity then.

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce ... sh_396.php
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I'll watch closely for those; thanks Apple. I really haven't had any hornworms here for years. If they suddenly show up after growing these, it won't be worth growing them, no matter how much I get from them.

I just looked at them early, and a few male flowers had opened, but still neither on the long variety...just slower blooming, but faster growing!
I think I'll have to snip some of those vines, as one plant can't support that many fruits. But I'll wait until they are actually producing, to do that.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I was hand pollinating some again, since some of the males had opened and I found something really strange - some "Siamese Twins"! Two co-joined flowers, which formed two co-joined fruits, and you can see the co-joined stems beneath the fruit. I have never seen this on any flowering vegetable before! Anybody else ever see this type of thing before?
ImageDSCF0685 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0687 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

LOL yes. Squashes seem to do this — more often with Male blossoms, so the female with fruit, if sufficiently pollinated, will be a fun double fruit. I think more often the females fail to set without help and drop.

You must have seen them on tomatoes though?
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

applestar wrote:LOL yes. Squashes seem to do this — more often with Male blossoms, so the female with fruit, if sufficiently pollinated, will be a fun double fruit. I think more often the females fail to set without help and drop.

You must have seen them on tomatoes though?
Maybe I've seen tomatoes joined together, but didn't realize that's what happened. I don't go around looking closely at the flowers, to find this early on, I guess. But I don't remember ever seeing a squash or cucumber like this. Like you say, maybe they just dropped off without setting fruit, as I never had to go around hand pollinating, early on.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I have seen some flowers do that and it is rare. I usually don't have to cull any fruit from gourds they are large vines and as long as they are fed and get a lot of water, they can support 20-30 fruit at one time, no problem.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Those gourds are going crazy out there! I looked them over closely today, and the long variety is beginning to get the female flowers more now, but nothing like what's on the short variety. I counted (and probably missed a few!) 38 fruits forming, and I didn't count the ones with unopened flowers! At the base of every petiole there is at least one blossom, sometimes 2 or 3 (I guess this is how the Siamese twins form), the majority of which are female. I snipped about half of them, leaving only one at each point, figuring that this will allow faster growth. All the rest of those unopened blossoms will be even more. I also found that the long variety was getting another vine at the base of every petiole - almost like the suckers on indeterminate tomatoes. So I pulled as many of those off as I could, as there are at least 8 extra vines growing every which way! As with all those fruits on the short variety, I figure that one plant can't support all that, so I'll pull them, for now.

Those things are in an SIP, and I had to reset the timer, for more often (the higher heat lately also has something to do with that!), and place an emitter in it, that has double the output of the others on the same line.

It's nice having too much of something, instead of not much at all!
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Oooh post some pictures when you get the chance — it would be fun to see their progress.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Here are a couple photos from today:
ImageDSCF0690 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

This one shows a lot of the vines on the smaller plant, along with a lot of the flowers, though they are sort of hard to see, with all those large leaves.
ImageDSCF0697 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Gorgeous! If they grow like the luffahs do, you’re not even going to see the trellis by the end of the season.

I love those delicate white blossoms.

One thing I do know from trying to grow bottle gourds and luffahs — NEVER underestimate the weight of the vines and the fruits, and sail-like wind resistance of those big leaves. Add guy lines and tie downs before the hurricane and tropical storms start blowing through.

Also, one year, I thought I was so clever for securing the trellis and tying up the birdhouse gourd vines —but— ALL the FRUITS GOT RIPPED OFF THE VINES and were on the ground the next day. :shock:
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Hopefully I won't get any of these, or the melons I'll have on the trellises, ripped off by wind. Last season, I had some tomatoes brought down, because the trellis was the nylon type, and was torn, due to the massive number of tomato leaves catching the wind. So this season, only CRW for heavy plants, plus spacing them out more.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Once the vines get going they can get to 50 ft or more. I found this article that might suggest a way to get more blossoms and explain the lack of fruit set.

https://www.mykitchengarden.info/2014/0 ... gourd.html
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Thanks for the link, imafan26. They sort of suggest the usual ways of setting more fruit, or getting the fruit larger (removing some of it!), and they suggest clipping the vines, though much shorter than I was going to clip these. I'll just wait until it reaches the end of the trellis.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

The Botelya Squash sprouted. Five of them so far, which should be plenty. Image

Image
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Here's that first bottle gourd ready to be harvested, about 3 1/2" wide, and 10" high, probably more tomorrow, when I cut it:
ImageDSCF0718 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Harvested that first bottle gourd today, 46.2 oz.
ImageDSCF0719 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Here it is halved and quartered, showing how little the seeds are developed in the 10" fruit:
ImageDSCF0721 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Cooks up much like a summer squash, staying a little firmer, and with a very mild flavor, but maybe more than in a zucchini. If it grows well, I won't have to worry about summer squash - so far, no signs of SVB at all!

Today I trimmed the tips of all those vines grown to the ends of the trellis. I have to do that soon with the melons, as well.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Very nice! I’m amazed you already have first harvest.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Apple - these are listed as 50-55 days, so this was almost perfect!
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I made my first dish with that bottle gourd today - Bottle gourd with chilis and curry leaves. Relatively simple - I wanted one with not too many ingredients, so the flavor of the vegetable would not be covered up, as I figured that it would be mild. It has more flavor than summer squash, but not much. And the gourd is not spongy yet, at this size. The pieces still had some bite to them, even after cooking 15 min., which would turn most summer squash to mush.

The two quartered pieces on the right were used in this dish:
ImageDSCF0721 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

The other ingredients, measured out:
ImageDSCF0722 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Finished dish:
ImageDSCF0723 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

That was one of the double gourds. You can make tinola, substituting the gourd for green papaya. Papaya would be even firmer longer. Malunggay is also Moringa which is popular as a medicinal plant now. If you don't have malunggay leaves, spinach works. Right about now the malunggay is fruiting. The young pods are also good in soup.

https://panlasangpinoy.com/2014/12/02/c ... la-recipe/
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I am planning on trying this for the Thai dish Som Tum - also made with green papaya, and a favorite of mine. It has some cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh Thai chilis, dried shrimp, fish sauce, and shredded green papaya. I have made it with a few others, most often Kohlrabi. I was pleasantly surprised at how firm this was when harvested this large, and it should shred well. It will probably make a good vegetable pasta, also.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Today I harvested something new, though I'm not sure what I am going to use it for: some tendrils and the end shoots with tender leaves, from the bottle gourds (plus melons and bitter melons, probably, as there are a bunch of all these vines out there!).
ImageDSCF0749 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Those gourds are starting to produce well. I'll soon have more than I know what to do with, from just two plants! Here is jsut one group of the short variety. You can judge the length from the 6" squares on the trellis:
ImageDSCF0748 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

And here's one of the long ones, about 8", but skinnier than the short variety:
ImageDSCF0747 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Quite a few of the earliest fruits did not get pollinated, I guess since there were not enough (or any!) males open when the female blossoms would open, and they aren't like Cucurbita squash, on which the flowers open and close several days, in most cases. Seems these just open one time, and that's it, so I started hand pollinating them, until there were so many males open at any one time, that the females wouldn't go without.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

I harvested one of that long variety I took the photo of on the last post. This one grew 5" in two days - 13" now.
It gets twice that long, but I'm going to increase bit by bit, to see if and when they get seedy and soft, like summer squash do, at a smaller size.
ImageDSCF0771 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0772 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

This definitely looks like a keeper, as they are getting loaded now - more on just 2 plants than I'll be able to eat! One of the things I'm going to try with it is making "vegetable noodles", and something I'm going to try with it (which I've tried with other neutral veggies, in place of green papaya) is Som Tum, a favorite Thai dish of mine, using cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilies from the garden.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

These things are like some sort of squash on steroids! Here are three more - 40, 46, and 15 oz ones, and many more out there to follow. Heat doesn't seem to bother them, but then, they are from the tropics! Yet, the cool that stunted my peppers didn't stunt them, from what I could tell.
ImageDSCF0794 by pepperhead212, on Flickr
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Thanks for keeping us updated @pepperhead212. This is all very interesting. :()
Have you made a pasta out of these yet? Are you using a spiral shaver or a similar gadget?
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Apple,
I just got a spiralizer delivered yesterday - made by Bella, whose Food Processor was the top rated mid size, when Serious Eats did a comparison recently, so I figured it was a good brand. I haven't used it yet, but will soon.
Besides the noodles, I thought of something else to try to make with them: chips. I thought of these when I was thinking about dehydrating them, as I have done with eggplants. I see zucchini chips all the time, so why not use these?
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

5 more of these things! One, the one next to the tomatoes, I missed, and left it there too long, and is the first one that started softening. The rest - 3 longs and one short - are all firm, as all have been, so far.
ImageDSCF0806 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0816 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Question for you apple (since you are in this area): I'm wondering about a very small beetle I find in almost every single blossom I have opened when hand pollinating these things, male or female, and it looks like a miniature striped cucumber beetle. But they are small, maybe 3/8" x 3/16", and all pretty much the same size, so I figure it's something else. Plus, I don't see them on the leaves, or eggs like those beetles, either. I'll have to take a photo of them (if they will show, this small), if I can get them before flying away.

Sound like anything you've seen?
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

The harvest looks terrific, pepperhead212. I’m curious about those green tomatoes....?

RE striped beetles — yes I have seen them. Do you mean that they are smaller than the Spotted Cucumber Beetles or that you have seen striped cucumber beetles that are larger than these? Because I’ve always assumed these smaller ones ARE the STRIPED Cucumber Beetles. Now I’m wondering if I have been mistaken....

In my garden, they are almost always found inside the cucurbit blossoms. I’ve noted that when I find wilted young leaves or a wilted length of side shoots or vines, I would almost inevitably find SPOTTED cucumbers beetles, but never the smaller (about 1/2 the size) striped ones. Spotted ones arrive later than the striped ones, along with the leaf-foots and squash bug stinkbugs, and then the wholesale slow destruction of the cucurbits (particularly melon vines) begins. I’ve mostly decided the striped ones might be benign....
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

My mistake, Apple - those large striped beetles I always see are the Colorado potato beetle. I have seen those more than the spotted cucumber beetles, through the years, yet I haven't grown potatoes since sometime in the 90s. And I've never noticed these small ones, but then, I'm usually looking on leaves. Fortunately, Surround keeps most of these bugs off. Tomorrow, after this heavy rain goes through tonight, I'll be able to "re-surround" everything out there. I'm hoping that growing the melons on the trellis this year will allow me to cover the leaves better, and the bugs won't decimate them, as in years past. I don't grow any cucumbers other than County Fair, due to bacterial wilt, spread by these bugs.

Those green tomatoes are Green Tigers, a delicious and productive artisan tomato, which is always one of the first to ripen in my garden. I also grew purple bumblebees and sunrise; the purples had a delicious, but milder flavor, and the sunrise I probably liked the most, but it wasn't stabilized - one plant would have smaller fruits, while another would be elongated, like the green tiger. The drawback to all of them was that the plants could be totally wiped out by a high heat heat wave, not just drop their blossoms. I still grow 2 green tigers every season, however.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

The seeds will be smaller if you pick them when they are about a foot long. They can still be eaten up to 3 ft long but the seeds will be bigger. I usually have to split a big one with someone since it is too much for one dish and cut squash does not keep long.
When the squash get very big or old, it is too hard to eat, but can still be used to make gourd strips (kampyo).If you leave the bigger ones on the vine at the end of the season it can get up to 5 ft long (if it has space), and it will dry and the seeds can be saved for another year. The round opo can be dried and can be made into bowls (calabash) or hats.
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Ah but you grow eggplants, pepperhead212, and Colorado potato beetles like eggplant foliage almost MORE than potatoes’.

Kanpyo is dehydrated strips right? Do you/have you made them yourself, imafan26? Is it as easy as slicing thin and dehydrating? Or hanging the strips to dry? Do they need to be soaked in acid or alkaline solution to keep from turning brown or something first?

I’ve only ever used them for tying konbu (sea kelp) in place around salmon to stew for the Japanese New Years’ dish. That’s one of my favorites.
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pepperhead212
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Apple, Years ago, the only time I grew potatoes, I discovered that potato bugs liked EPs, so much so, jthat mine were reduced to a netting almost overnight! This is why I don't grow potatoes; while the bugs barely bothered them, they were an insect magnet, and the bugs destroyed other plants.

imafan, All of the gourds that I have harvested so far, up to 22" and 46 oz from the long variety, and about 10", and around a pound from the short variety (Dhal) have been firm, except for that one next to the tomatoes above, which is just starting to get soft. However, all, including that one, have had no seeds developing - only that translucent spot where the seeds will form eventually. Usually, summer squash gets overmature long before this, so I considered this good. I just have to watch closely, so I don't miss any more in that jungle of vines! And now I have the bitter melons and muskmelons to add to the jungle!

Speaking of dehydrating, here's something I did with one of them. I was thinking that I would have so many that I'd have to dehydrate them, like I do eggplants, and when I started to look up dehydrating zucchini, I thought of zucchini chips!
ImageDSCF0795 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Finished chips:
ImageDSCF0802 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

I forgot to weigh them before and after - I'll do that next time. Took about 18 hours on 135, which surprised me, as larger things often dry faster on lower temps. Was probably the small amount of oil added. I seasoned them lightly, based on a zucchini chip recipe I found, and they were good, but next time I'll season them heavier, maybe with some Thai seasoning, adding some tamarind instead of vinegar, for the sour, and some fish sauce, plus, of course, heat!
Dave

pepperhead212
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Last night, since I was dehydrating some other things, I cut up that larger bottle gourd, and cut it into fairly large pieces - larger than bite size, for sure - and packed them so close on a shelf I could not fit another one on, without them touching. It reduced to 1/20th of its original weight, and here's what it looked like:
ImageDSCF0841 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

I think this will be better to make the chips with!
Dave

pepperhead212
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

Something that I did today, which I realized that I had to do, was trim away at least half of those vines from those bottle gourd plants. They had reached a point where they almost stopped producing, after I couldn't pick them fast enough for a couple weeks. I figured that all those vines and leaves were just too much for that one stalk coming out of the container to feed! So carefully, I pulled all of the oldest ones off, many of which were getting yellowed leaves, and vines that had produced, but I had cut off at the ends, and left some of the newest looking ones, closest to the main stem, which is thick and hard now (no signs of SVB, something I watch for with anything like this!). I got almost en entire trash can full of leaves and vines! No signs of any diseases or bugs, usually found on squash, but then, it's early in the season. Last night, I saw only a few of the white flowers opened up around 8 pm, which is what made me think to do this. I'll see how soon the plants respond to the cut backs.
Dave

pepperhead212
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Re: Anybody here with experience growing bottle gourds?

That trimming did help. The flowers are opening much more now, and 2 almost full sized gourds are already on each plant, with more beginning to grow,as well as new vines. I'll have to be diligent about removing the old leaves and vines, to keep them growing. Maybe next year I'll try some succession plantings, since the output from one plant at a time is more than enpugh.
Dave

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