Can I grow gourds in 5 gallon buckets? I'd like to grow some of those little gourds that look like hens eggs. I have the seeds, and am ready to plant. But we don't have enough space for sprawling vines in the yard. Could I plant these seeds in a 5 gallon plastic bucket?
Perhaps if I drilled holes for drainage, put some gravel in the bottom and used very good potting soil in the bucket? Then when they started growing, I could place a trellis for the vines to grow on? Any ideas would be great!
Hardiness Zone: 6b
Barbara from East Tennessee
I'm with Cheryl (see feedback forum). Why not try it? Not only will you save space, but by growing them vertically, each gourd will receive more light and the vines will be less susceptible to borers and other pests diseases.
I once read about a man who planted pumpkins in 5-gallon buckets that he nailed along the roof of his garage. As I recall, his intention was to grow a mass of vines that would eventually cover his roof and provide shade for his garage. I'm not sure he produced many pumpkins, but he got his shady roof for sure.
Light-colored buckets (maybe 2-3 seeds in each) or large terra cotta pots will probably work best for this project. Gourds climb like monkeys so they will also need supports. Make sure to put a sturdy trellis of some kind in each pail.
After the seedlings emerge, cover the top of the soil with some course mulch. This will help keep the soil cool while helping retain moisture. If the plants start to decline and you suspect the roots are getting too hot, you might try deflecting some of the heat away from the bucket by wrapping the outside of the bucket with something shiny like aluminum foil.
Just like anything grown in containers, watch moisture levels carefully. Gourds like a lot of water to begin with, so plan to check them everyday. How much (if any) fertilizer gourds need depends on whom you ask. Some growers claim they need a little bit, others say they need none at all. I don't normally fertilize gourds when growing them in the ground, but if I was growing them in containers I would consider giving them a balanced (10-10-10) liquid house plant fertilizer (diluted to half strength) early in the season, and then again about mid-way through. Better yet, you might periodically top the soil off with a little compost.
Keep your gourds well away from pumpkins, squash, and other cucurbits in the garden to avoid the possibility of cross pollination.
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The major challenge here will be to keep the bucket somewhat cool ie. out of the sun (you don't want to cook the roots), but still provide enough sun for the plant's leaves and fruits.
Why not give it a try? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
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