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Harvesting Gourds

Q. I am growing ornamental gourds for the first time and would like to know when to harvest them.

A. Harvest your gourds when the shells harden and the tendrils near the fruit begin to turn brown and dry. Gourds should remain on the vine until after the first killing frost and, when picked, should have between 1 and 2 inches of stem attached. Since a gourd is 90 percent water, it is necessary for that water to evaporate through the stem. They can be washed in soapy water, rinsed well and moved to a cool place, out of direct sun to prevent fading. Drying may take up to nine months or more than a year with very large specimens.