Is it a conspiracy? Kat
wants to know.
Kat has a question
. . . she
wants to know why her gourd vines are only producing male flowers. Not
a single female. Sounds like a conspiracy!
No, Kat, it's not a conspiracy.
Gourd vines naturally produce male flowers first on the vine, then
females. (Refer to Through the Gourdvine, Volume Three,
Kasin's Korner for details on identifying male an female gourd
flowers.) [Vince, a link
to your order desk would be good to refer to here.] What
you're seeing is a natural growth pattern for hardshell gourds.
Once the females begin, the males continue so pollination can occur.
You may want to take advantage of the early males. Gathering
their pollen which can be stored for later use is possible. With
a soft bristled brush, scoop up as much of the pollen as possible and
shake it into a plastic baggy. After harvesting as much pollen as
you can, insert the brush into the bag (which will be pollen
covered), and use a rubberband to securely tie off the opening of the
bag. The idea is to keep the pollen cool but not wet.
So keep the bag securely closed and in the refrigerator until your
shyer females start to grace the garden. When they do, take
your pollen bag to the garden, and with the pollen-laden brush, gently
stroke over the females. Full instructions for hand-pollenating
can also be found in Through the Gourdvine, Volume Three, Kasin's
Hello, Chris. Kasin Hunter, here. You sent this question below:
From: Chris B
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003
Subject: quick question
Hi and Good morning,
I am a first time gourd grower. My vines are going crazy and the gourds
are beautiful. Now for the question: when should I harvest them? I'm
just not sure when the best time is, and I surely don't want them to
rotting! If you could also direct me to a site that can show me how to
them, that would be fantastic. Thanks and have a great day, Chris.
Good question, Chris. Harvesting of gourds should not happen until four to six inches of the stem to the gourd has turned brown. When brown, no more nutrients can get to the gourd. If the stem is green, nutrients are still getting to the gourd; the gourd is still maturing.
Another way to tell if a hardshell gourd is mature is the loss of the fine hairs over the outer area. Young gourds have a fine growth of very short hair which is lost closer to full maturation. However, this is not as good an indicator as a brown stem. A brown stem is still the best indicator of a mature gourd.
When maturation happens (when the stem is brown) depends on the gourd and the area where it is grown. Look for the brown stems, then have fun with your harvesting! And remember, the main reason a gourd rots is because it hadn't matured enough, no matter what time of the growing season it comes off the vine.
Kasin Hunter, columnist for Through the Gourdvine.
Harvest Now? (2)
Begin forwarded message from camerdot4:
tell me if I goofed by "pulling" the gourds from the vine before they
were brown? One (out of the 6) has a ruined sof t spot.
How can I
dry these pulled on properly? Your info will be very helpful.
have quit a few on the vines, but these were IN OUR SATSUMA TREE!)
Yes, you goofed. :) Gourds need time to fully mature before
should be harvested. Even though the fruit might look ready, the
sign is the stem. When 4 to 6 inches of the stem is brown, the
dry, and the gourd can be harvested. Up until then, the vine is
providing nutrients to the gourd and the gourd is still maturing.
don't get too upset about some of the gourds caving in. Even
gourds sometimes do this. Just wasn't meant to be.
Normal harvest time for gourds is September to October, depending on
when they were planted, kind of gourd you have, weather,
Regardless, checking for the condition of the stem is the way to
By the way, I completely understand about your SATSUMA tree. Do
have an orange, tangerine . . .? Great fruit, from what I've
Kasin Hunter, columnist for Through the Gourdvine.
Harvest Now? (3)
got about 9 med. size "unknown" gourds, that i planted about 3 months
ago - lost the seed packet, but they look like some kinda bottle type.
is, when do i know when its time to harvest? they seem to have
stopped growing, half the vines are yucky (ants and aphid damage), but
the gourds are green, heavy and healthy looking (6-10" tall). we
got a hold of a magazine with some articles written by you (issue #1-2)
and i am so excited and inspired to grow a huge crop this spring.
but when time allows could you give me some harvesting tips?
wasn't able to find the info on the website.
live in jamul (san diego county), past spring valley, el cajon, before
tecate to give you a general local. been here about 2 years, many
clear sunny days and starry nights, love to garden and every year i try
a novelty crop - thus, these questions. yes, someday, i will
cruise the farm in fallbrook.
for your time and shared info,
Hello. Kasin Hunter, here.
Congrats! Unknown mystery seeds are my favorites.
my ? is, when do i know when its time to
harvest? they seem to have stopped growing, half the vines are yucky (ants and aphid
damage), but the gourds are green, heavy and healthy looking (6-10" tall). we got a hold of a magazine with some articles written by you (issue #1-2) and i am so excited and inspired to grow a huge crop this spring. but when time allows could you give me some harvesting tips? wasn't able to find the info on the website.
First, I would suggest you get with Through the Gourdvine's publisher
and procure the 3rd issue. It has great stuff in it to like
fertilizers, companion planting, and nitrogen-fixing
legumes which are really a great thing to do now with gourd season coming to an end
-- if you want a really healthy ground for gourd season come
Spring. His name is Vince and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
But as far as giving you some tips right now.
You harvest when the stem is four to six inches of brown. When
it's brown, then you know the gourd is no longer receiving any nutrients
from the vine. The gourd is as mature as it can get.
Leave about four to six inches of stem on each gourd. Set aside to dry on wood pallet or like (not concrete due to its porosity and interaction with
water) and let dry for 6 to 12 months. Some folks like to hang
them upside-down so the water drains from the cut stems. Just make
sure that there is as much air all around the gourds as possible. The
process of drying involves the movement of water from inside the gourd
to outside through the pores of the gourd skin. What is left
after 90 to 95 percent of the water has evaporated and the gourd has transmuted
is the interior seeds/membranes and the woody outer shell.
Of course, since there is water in the equation, there will be mold.
Mold is okay. Just don't breathe it in, which means DON'T
gourds inside your living quarters. Very bad for the lungs.
folks dry gourds out in the fields. This is okay is you don't
use the seeds again, as the seeds will freeze when left outside over
winter. Some say field-dried gourds clean better before
this has yet to be proven to my satisfaction.
i live in jamul
(san diego county), past spring valley,
el cajon, before tecate to give you a general local. been here
years, many clear sunny days and starry nights, love to garden and
every year i try a novelty crop - thus, these questions. yes,
i will cruise the farm in fallbrook.
thanks for your time and shared info,
Any place where you have 150 - 160 days of growing
season, you can do gourds outside quite well. Dig into the
Gourdvine magazine articles for batches of information, and if you have
any more questions, feel free to write again. I love chatting
Mulch - the M word.
Hello, Kathy. Good to hear from a
reader again. I
always enjoy these contacts.
To your question:
Kasin, I found your article in the fall 2003
"Through The Gourdvine" very informative but I have a question about
mulch. The local parks and recreation department has piles
and piles of wood mulch from trees and branches that have fallen over the
summer. It's quite possible that walnut trees have
been included in the mixture. Is it safe to use this mixture in my gourd patch if
it is aged for 6 to 7 months? I like the idea of free mulch but
not if the walnut toxins are going to harm my crop. Thanks for your
Good question, and one that has cropped up several times on my various
gardening boards. Here are some quotes and various information on
walnut material used as mulch:
"The hulls from black walnut contain a chemical plant
inhibitor (juglone) that can restrict the growth of some plants . . .
Compost the hulls for about three months before
using them as a mulch. Partial decomposition of the hulls will oxidize
the juglone, making them safe to use on plants."
Taking all of the above into consideration, I'd not recommend
using this fiber as mulch. With so many other mulches available, why
risk your crop? There are various organizations that supply mulch for
the garden. Look in the phone book or contact your local Extension
office for leads. These organizations are sometimes connected with your
local dumps and recycling centers. They take in clippings from
the community, chip it and mulch in mountains of materials. You back
up your truck and hall it home for a small fee.
The juglone toxin is poisonous to
some plants like tomatoes, potatoes, apples. The damage
occurs in the root zone and can occur within 50 to 80 feet over the
walnut's root zone, which of course gets larger as the tree
Some trees, vines, etc. can tolerate Juglone, but why not find a safer
location for them rather than take the chance?
"²AllelopathyAvoid walnut sawdust and mulch unless aged for at
least one year
** The walnut problem is not well substantiated
The following is from this web page:
University : Cornell Cooperative Extension
It's Toxicity Explored|
seems everywhere we go, whether at Rochester's annual flower and garden
GardenScape show, presenting one of our slide programs for daylilies,
or just visiting with garden friends, the question always seems to come
up "What can we do with our black walnut trees. Nothing seems to grow
under them." Actually, one can do quite a bit. But it will take a
little planning and perhaps a little experimenting as well. Depending
upon a frame of mind, black walnuts can be either a blessing or a
curse. I happen to love black walnuts and hesitate to remove them. We
suggest to all to give them a even chance to show what beauty can be
developed with just a little fore thought on what to plant under and
As with any tree, one must consider two important things. The first is
how much shade the tree will provide. Many plants require full sun for
several hours each day to grow well. There are some, like hosta for one
example that require some shade. Look for plants that will thrive in
the amount of light available at the location to be planted. Second,
most trees have extensive root systems and any planting over them will
be in competition for available soil nutrients and what little rain
fall escapes the tree's canopy. The tree usually wins. However,
persistence in supplemental watering and fertilizing can overcome some
of the deficiencies of location.
As for black walnut, and several similar nut bearing trees, they throw
us a third curve ball. They can be toxic to many plants. The trees
produce a chemical commonly called juglone. To grow plants under or
even near black walnuts we must understand how juglone works.
Our research produced several articles concerning walnut toxicity from
UNDER THE BLACK WALNUT TREE by Frank Robinson Horticulture magazine
October 1986. Mr. Robertson at that time was estate manager at
Albemarle Farms, Charlottesville, VA. He is now executive director of
the American Horticultural Society, Mt. Vernon, VA. Most sources quote
his work, oftentimes without giving him credit.
Michigan State University's web site for black walnuts (no longer
The Green Thumb Garden Handbook by George (Doc) and Katy Abraham, 1971,
Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs. NJ., page 85.
Ohio State University Extension's web site for Black Walnut Toxicity
The Dawes Arboretum, Newark, OH web site. List of trees and shrubs not
affected by Black Walnut Juglone Toxicity
What appears below is an attempt at combining this research into a
single meaningful one with reference to the source. The sources quoted
do not always agree on the toxic effects of walnuts.
"Many years ago a quinone called juglone was isolated from the husks of
walnut. Juglone was found to be highly toxic when injected into alfalfa
and tomato plants and has even killed apple trees growing near walnuts.
Experiments have found that a toxic effect of walnut bark causes a
growth failure of tomatoes and alfalfa within the root zone of walnuts.
There are, however, some conditions under which these plants may grow
near walnut trees without apparent damage. A scientific term used to
describe one plant's suppression of another through the secretion of a
chemical in the environment is Allelopathy."[Mich]
"Juglone is a toxic substance, a napthaquinone that has been isolated
in many plants in the walnut family. Some of these containing juglone
are: Persian (English) Walnut- J. regia, Black Walnut- J. nigra, and
Butternuts- J. cinerea,-J. sieboldiana, -J. mandshurica. There are some
hickories which also yield juglone: Shag Bark- Carya ovata, Mockernut-
C. alba, Pecans- C. olivae formis, and - Pterocarya caucasica." [Mich]
Abraham adds C. Illinoensis.
"Wilting caused by contact with walnut roots occurs in a relatively
short time, even when there is ample soil moisture. Wilting may occur
on only a part of the plant, or the whole plant may be affected. It is
wise to detect this early, as plants in the early stages may recover
when additional water is applied. Later wilting becomes more severe,
there is a browning of the leaves and wilting usually results in the
death of the plant. The observed toxic effect of Walnut can also be
partly offset by liberal supplies of nitrogen." [Mich]
"This toxic affect on surrounding plants appears to be related to root
contact, as walnut hulls and leaves used as mulch have not shown toxic
effects on plant growth. [Warning- Robertson disagrees.] Because Walnut
roots do not occupy the surface layers in most soil, many shallow
rooted plants growing under walnut trees don't come in contact with the
roots and are not affected by them." [Mich]
You've probably always heard that you should never add black walnut
sawdust [or wood chips] to the compost pile because the juglone will
kill everything that grows in the compost. Abrahams says that's not
necessarily true; that juglone is not found in walnut saw dust or wood
chips. Nor do dead walnut trees exude juglone. Juglone is harmless to
humans so you can go right ahead and safely eat fruit and vegetables
grown near walnuts. [Abraham]
Robertson doesn't agree on the use of walnut residue in composting. He
has this to say about black walnut saw dust, husks and leaves effecting
plants. "Tomatoes growing in clean soil in pots were severely stunted
when leaves and nuts fell into the pots while we were on vacation. I
know what juglone can do. I have seen a 15-year-old rhododendron killed
a few weeks after its owner mulched it with black-walnut husks, and
roses injured by an application of compost containing black-walnut
"The juglone toxin occurs in the leaves, bark, and wood of the walnut
but these contain lower concentrations than the roots. Juglone is
poorly soluble in water and does not move very far in the soil. Walnut
leaves can be composted because the toxin breaks down when exposed to
air, water and bacteria. The toxic effect can be degraded in two to
four weeks. In soil, breakdown may take up to two months. Black walnut
leaves may be composted separately, and the finished compost tested for
toxicity by planting tomato seedlings in it. Sawdust mulch, fresh
sawdust or chips from street trees prunings are not suggested for
plants sensitive to juglone, such as blueberry. However, composting of
bark for a minimum of six months provides a safe mulch even for plants
sensitive to juglone" [Ohio]
To be on the safe side, composted material containing juglone should be
allowed to breakdown over a period of time before use. This composted
material can be used with plants that are not susceptible to juglone
damage. If it is important to use it for general composting purposes,
testing it first with a few tomato plants for a few weeks should reveal
its level of toxicity.
"Juglone is a strong toxin that may prevent plants from fully utilizing
energy so that the plants cannot meet the minimum energy level required
for life. Juglone is released from walnuts in several ways: leaves
falling and decaying; nut husks; root leakage and decay, and rain-drip
from the crown. [Abraham]
"Tomatoes and alfalfa have been grown normally close to young trees.
This suggests that either the toxic substance may not be formed yet in
the young trees or that the roots of the young trees are few and do not
come into contact with those of the plants beneath it."[Mich] This is
an important observation. It may mean that susceptible shallow rooting
plants might survive the killing effects of juglone as long as the
plant roots do not contact or grow close to walnut roots. However
planting susceptible plants under walnuts in raised beds for example
makes them vulnerable to rain-drip off the tree leaves and from falling
leaves and nuts. "Tomatoes are particularly susceptible to the chemical
juglone. Any tomatoes planted within the root zone of a black walnut
(or closely related trees such as butternut- Juglans cinerea) will
display what is known as walnut wilt. The woody stem tissue turns
brown, and the plants soon wilt and die." [Robinson]
"Many plants such as tomato, potato, blackberry, blueberry, azalea,
mountain laurel, rhododendron, red pine, and apple may be injured or
killed within one to two months of growth within the root zone of these
trees. The toxic zone from a mature tree occurs on average in a 50 to
60 foot radius from the trunk, but can be up to 80 feet. The area
affected extends outward each year as the tree enlarges. Young trees
two to eight feet high can have a root diameter twice the height of the
tree, with susceptible plants dead within the root zone and dying at
the margins." [Ohio]
"Plant roots can encounter juglone when grown within one-half to
one-fourth inch of walnut roots. Many walnut roots can be found at a
distance of up to two times the crown [drip] radius from the trunk, but
some may extend out as far as three to four times the crown [drip]
radius."[Abraham] Three to four times is not an exaggeration and should
be taken into account before planting susceptible plants.
"Evidence also indicates that the toxic effect does not remain in the
soil more than about one year after removal of a walnut tree." [Mich]
This means that we should wait at least one full year after removing a
walnut or related tree before planting susceptible plants near the
Under the article, there is a list of plants that can be planted
a black walnut used to be - a sign of compatibility.
If you'd like to read more, here is the search I generated:
Copy the entire line into your web browser.
Thanks for the contact. Best wishes in your planting.
Kasin Hunter, Columnist for TTGV.