Lagenaria siceraria belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose members also include pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. Characteristics of the hard shell gourd include:
Tendril bearing vines which have the male and female blossoms on the same vine.
An outer shell which, when dried, is hard and durable.
Most hard-shell gourds are smooth skinned and dry to a lovely tan colour. (Ornamental gourds are colourful but most ornamental gourds rot when they get old.) As it dries, the hard shell gourd develops a thick black velvety mold which leaves beautiful patterns in the shell.
Evidence of gourd fragments and seeds found in Peru date back to 23,000 B.C. In many cultures, gourds have been used to create utensils, containers, musical instruments and religious objects. More recently, craftspeople have fashioned masks, hats, birdhouses and feeders and jewellery from gourds.
Dried gourds can be transformed with paint, pyrography, carving, basketry and beadwork.
Good hard shell gourds require a hot, dry growing season. This area of Ontario has been known for its tobacco farming in the past; now, it provides the best gourds in Canada. We grow Northern Dipper gourds with the artist in mind. Vigorous pruning, upright trellising and a rich diet of fertilizer and soil deliver healthy, beautiful gourds of consistent sizes and shapes.