Seven Happiness Luffa
Luffa cylindrica 100 days. Known as luffa or sponge gourd, this native to China is edible when very young. Start indoors and transplant outside as you would melons. For a scrubber, allow fruit to ripen until the skin hardens and stems turn yellow. Peel off the outer skin and remove pulp by rinsing in running water.
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|Seed Depth||Seed Spacing||Soil Temp for Germ.||Days to Germ.||Thin Plants To||See individual varieties for seed count.|
|1-1 1/2″||3-4 per hill||65-85°F||5-10||1-2 per hill|
Lagenaria siceraria and cucurbita pepo True gourds belong to the genus Lagenaria, and the species siceraria. The different varieties of L. siceraria do not cross with any other cucurbitaceae. All gourds are vining varieties and can grow to 15 feet. They are often tiered along a trellis or fence to save space. Most are grown for their mature shell and unique shapes.
CULTURE: Gourds have the same cultural needs as other members of the squash family. Starting transplants can give you earlier yields and prize winning pumpkins. Start transplants 3 weeks prior to your usual last frost. Use 3 inch peat or jiffy pots and grow with lots of light in a warm area. After they are up and growing well, move them to an outside cold frame. Hardening off for about a week makes a difference in their vigor after transplanting. After the danger of frost has passed, plant the entire peat or jiffy pot with no peat exposed to the air. Plant the bush or short-vine varieties in rows 6-8 feet apart with the plants spaced 3-4 feet apart in the row. Large-fruited varieties should be planted in rows 8-10 feet apart, with the plants spaced 4-5 feet apart in the row. Pumpkins and gourds require moderate to high levels of fertility. 1/2 cup of our complete fertilizer should be worked in around the plant when transplanting and another at the 4-6 leaf stage. Soil testing and liming to adjust pH can increase your success. Pumpkins and gourds require uniform irrigation totaling 15-20 inches of water during the growing season. Bee attractant flowers or beehives will help yields. Misshapen or non-developing fruit is often the result of poor pollination.
Direct sowing: Plant after your last frost and when the soil has warmed to at least 60°F. Optimum soil temperature for germination: 65-85°F. Days to germination: 5-10. Sow 1-1 1/2 inch deep and 3-4 feet between bush varieties, 4-5 feet between vining varieties. Distance between rows: 6-10 feet. Pumpkins need just-barely-damp soils to germinate. Too much moisture causes the seed to rot. All pumpkins are monoecious (bearing separate male and female flowers on the same plant), and require bee and insect activity for successful pollination. Poor fruit set is often the result of poor pollination.
DISEASES: Pumpkins and gourds are susceptible to many of the common vine diseases, such as wilts, leaf spots and mildews, as well as several viral diseases. Common control measures include crop rotation, field sanitation, and fungicide applications. Consult your local county extension agent with specific problems.
INSECTS: Cucumber beetles and squash bugs can cause problems in squash plants. We've seen striped cucumber beetles turn healthy leaves into something that resembles a nylon sack in a matter of days. Dedicated use of Pyrethrin will help control the problem. Crop rotation can minimize problems with insects.
HARVEST: Exposure in the field to prolonged (1-2 weeks) temperatures below 50°F can result in chilling injury and lead to pumpkins and gourds rotting in storage. Pumpkins can be harvested after their rinds are hard and their skins have turned orange. Leave 3-4 inches of stem on the fruit since pumpkins without stems store poorly. Gourds should be allowed to mature as long as possible on the vine. To dry gourds, first wash gently in a solution of 10 parts water and 1 part bleach, carefully removing all dirt, then store in a warm, dry location. Pumpkins and gourds should be stored at 55-70°F and at 70% relative humidity.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 75%. Usual seed life: 3 years.