Gourds Take Over Organic Family Garden

Tennessee Spinning Top Gourd
Have you ever planted gourds in your garden?  I don't want to discourage you.  But I have just a word of caution:  make sure you have enough space.

As East Tennesseans, it seemed fitting that our family would try growing the Tennessee Spinning Top gourds that Sow True Seed sent us home with this spring.  It sounded like a fun idea, especially after our visits with Georgia gourd farmers and crafters last year. We'd get the chance to grow our own gourds.

I remember planting only a couple of gourd plants from seed this spring, on two corners of a raised planting bed that also contained sweet peppers and a bit of lavender.  At first, we anticipated whether we'd see anything at all. Then the plants started flourishing, with leaves not quite as large as those on its cousin the squash plant.

As I looked for photo opportunities, it was delightful to see the 2-inch-sized, green-striped gourds hanging from vines climbing up the nearby garden fence.  I spotted more and more of the cute little gourds that children used to spin as tops. From those two little plants, I've now collected about 50 Tennessee Spinning Top gourds.  They're supposed to dry or cure for a few months before they work as little toys.
Before Severe Pruning
After Severe Pruning
As beautiful as these gourd plants were, they were choking out everything else in the vegetable bed.  The sweet pepper plants have recently matured enough to produce, but they needed some space.  Sadly, I may have discovered too late that the gourd vines were depriving my lavender of sunlight and air circulation. So, this week I harvested tiny gourds and severely pruned the plants.  A more experienced gardener would have kept the plants pruned on an ongoing basis, I suppose.  Or perhaps a cautious gardener would not have planted ornamental gourds anywhere near the regular vegetable garden.  It's been fun watching them grow, but it was time for most of the gourds to go.
Tennessee Spinning Top Gourds