By Jennifer Poindexter
Would you like to add gourds to your garden but are unsure how to utilize them once they’ve reached harvest?
Gourds are one of the most underappreciated plants in the garden, in my opinion. They produce large, beautiful vines and different fruits.
When I first incorporated gourds into my garden, I wanted them more for shading and landscaping purposes. I planted them along my fence line that met with my chicken yard.
It was a great way to add color to my fence line while providing shade for my chickens during summer. However, there are many things you can do with the gourds themselves.
They’re great for a variety of crafts and even for culinary purposes. I’m going to discuss with you which gourds are best for each purpose in hopes you’ll have a better idea of which gourds you should plant, should you choose to do so.
Here’s how you can utilize different gourds after harvest:
Best Gourd Types for Crafting
Should you choose to use gourds to create crafts, such as birdhouses, be sure to dry the fruit thoroughly before use.
When creating a birdhouse from a gourd, consider which birds you’re building the house for. This will determine how large the opening of the birdhouse should be.
Take these tips into consideration prior to beginning your crafts. With this in mind, let’s discuss the best gourds for crafting purposes:
1. Kettle Gourd
Kettle gourds also go by the name of purple martin. If you’ve seen a birdhouse constructed from a gourd, this is most likely the type you saw.
This type of gourd is pear-shaped and can grow as large as a foot around. Aside from making birdhouses, it’s great for a variety of other crafts such as painting.
2. Dipper Gourd
Dipper gourds have a long stem and a rounded base. It’s no wonder these gourds are frequently used for making ladles.
However, dipper gourds also make wonderful birdhouses. They’re used to create homemade decorations and drinking glasses as well.
3. Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourds go by the name Calabash gourd as well. These gourds resemble a bottle as they have a narrow neck that shrinks in and balloons out to make the bottle shape.
You could utilize this gourd as a utensil or even make a unique musical instrument. They also make wonderful DIY containers.
4. Egg Gourds
Egg gourds produce rounded fruits. They not only make beautiful additions to centerpieces, but they can be useful around your yard as well.
If you have chickens, sometimes you need to substitute real eggs for fake ones to discourage the chickens from cracking the eggs they lay. Egg gourds are helpful to use in these instances.
5. Sponge Gourds
Did you know you can grow your own sponges? Gourd plants, such as the loofah, produce a fruit that you harvest, peel, and dry.
From there, you can use them as sponges or you can incorporate them into homemade soaps. If you’d like to use natural items around your home, consider growing this type of gourd.
6. Goose Gourds
Are you an artistic person? Would you like to paint some of your homegrown items to create homemade DIY décor?
If so, you should consider growing goose gourds. These gourds have curved necks similar to a goose or swan. You can dry, paint, and use them for unique decorative purposes.
7. Apple Gourds
During the fall, I love making DIY centerpieces because if you purchase everything the costs start piling up.
When you need a fall centerpiece, grow apple gourds in advance. When dried, they look like unique apples and could be painted to really shine in your DIY decorative creations.
8. Warty Gourds
If you shop at many mom and pop shops, or even some grocery stores, you’ve probably seen decorative fruits that are covered in bumps.
Most likely, you’re viewing warty gourds. Though these have distinct features, they make wonderful additions for crafting creations such as wreaths or centerpieces.
9. Penguin Gourds
I’m a huge fan of penguins, so when I saw this type of gourd, I knew it deserved a spot on our list. These gourds hold a shape similar to a penguin.
Again, this is another great option for painting and utilizing in homemade decorations to add charm to your living space.
10. Canteen Gourds
Canteen gourds are rounded with a flat bottom. Therefore, you can use them for numerous purposes. One option is to create a container or drinking cup.
Other options consist of unique bowls or even as a candy dish. If you need an interesting feature around your space, don’t overlook this type of gourd for your projects.
Now that we’ve discussed all the different types of gourds that you can utilize for crafts, let’s discuss which gourds are edible.
Best Gourd Types for Eating
Did you know you probably consume gourds in your diet without even realizing it? When many people think of a gourd, they consider some of the options listed above. Many people don’t consider gourds part of the typical diet.
However, in some cultures eating bottle gourds is commonplace. Let’s discuss the different types of gourds that may earn, or perhaps already have, a space in your diet.
Here are the best gourds for eating:
1. Acorn Squash
You may not realize that squash and melons belong to the gourd family. However, they do and are quite tasty.
The first item on our list that’s a gourd and edible is the acorn squash. These plants should be grown after all frost is over and in an area with full sun and well-draining soil.
Watermelons come in a variety of sizes. You can plant watermelons that are large or small. They even come in seedless varieties. The main thing is to hold off on planting watermelons until all frost is over.
Also, be sure these plants are provided ample sunlight, well-draining soil, and water. They should also be provided plenty of room to sprawl (with cardboard placed beneath the fruits) or trellised to protect the fruits from rot.
Pumpkins can be used for decorating or for eating. During the fall, many people decorate their porches with whole or carved pumpkins.
However, you can plant pie pumpkins to use around Thanksgiving to make delicious pumpkin pies and other wonderful desserts.
4. Calabash Gourds
Calabash gourds were mentioned earlier on our list. This gourd is also known as a bottle gourd and is used for a variety of crafts.
Though this plant may not be used as commonly in the Western diet, in other cultures it’s used to make a type of curry. Give it a try and see what you think.
5. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash grows well in full sunlight, well-draining soil, and where it’s watered regularly. This plant vines heavily as well.
Therefore, be sure to trellis this plant, or it may take over your garden. Once the butternut squash is harvested, it’s great roasted or pureed.
6. Bitter Melon
Bitter melon is an elongated gourd that has vertical grooves along the skin. As the name suggests, this plant has a bitter flavor profile.
You can utilize this fruit by baking it or eating raw. Bitter melon is used in stir-fry dishes and is sometimes incorporated into egg dishes, too.
Now that you have different uses for different types of gourds, decide how you wish to utilize this plant. From there, pick the varieties that will best serve your goals.
After you have a plan, do your research to ensure you’re ready to provide adequate care for the plants. Then enjoy your harvest and try your hand at the different projects and recipes you wish to try.