Dori’s Backyard Gourd Garden

At the beginning of summer, I noticed a small gourd plant starting to grow out of one of my grasses in my flower bed where a gourd birdhouse was hanging above. I know I hadn’t planted any gourd plants because I know how they take over everything. My flower bed had beautiful lilies, green grasses, and a wonderfully shaped Alberta Spruce. But all the same, I could not get rid of it because it was a GOURD PLANT – my livelihood for goodness sakes!!

Well, my husband, Todd, who also works here at Meadowbrooke was not feeling the same way. He knew what was going to happen. It was going to get in his way of mowing and grow into the neighbor’s yard. After a few weeks, it had lots of flowers but not one darn gourd. I hate to admit it that even though I know how to hand pollinate, I just couldn’t find the time to go out right at dusk, look for a male flower and then pick three female flowers to pollinate. I have great respect for the high school kids that come in to do this for us – all I see and feel is a good backache. Anyway, I convinced Todd to let it continue to grow and see what happened.

Every week, sometimes twice a week, when he would be mowing, I could hear him grumbling above the roar of the lawnmower as he had to move the vines out of our lawn and then out of the neighbor’s yards, redirect them down the bed or up through a tree. This vine took off as we knew would happen, it went everywhere. I was beaming because my flower bed had a very lush gourd plant growing in it with huge leaves, and I still didn’t care if I didn’t have any gourds. All the neighbors were full of questions, “what is that, can you eat them, what are you going to do with them?” I liked their attitude because at this point there was no “thems” on the vine yet.

This plant was a little source of contention between Todd and me for most of the summer until earlier this week. At this point, I can’t find my lilies, my grasses are bending over from the weight of the vines and my Alberta Spruce has become a trellis. Todd came running in the house from mowing and I am thinking “oh no, here we go again, they are in our yard, the neighbor’s yard, blah, blah, blah”. But this time he says” you have got to come to see this!” As we arrive at the overgrown gourd plant, he shows me a beautiful 6”-7” gourd. As we start slowing pulling the leaves apart, we discover another one just as big, if not bigger. We then start to notice all the smaller ones that have started to grow but just got a little later start.

One other thing you should know, Todd has just started to make weaved baskets out of gourds to sell in the store. Now, when he saw these gourds growing, all he could see was the potential of making a beautiful basket. Do I really need to tell you that he has now accepted this gourd plant, vines and all. He takes great care in moving the vines and making sure he doesn’t hit any of them with the mower and he makes sure the gourd sits straight so it has a flat bottom and no flat sides. The gourd crafter in him has come out, looking for that perfect gourd to create with.

I have to believe that this is a rare occurrence because I have hung lots of gourd birdhouses around my yard throughout the years but have never had a plant start to grow under one. Now when I look out my back door and see that gourd plant, I smile. What began as a small seed growing in my flowerbed causing some “discussions” will become a beautiful weaved basket, a smiling jack-o-lantern or a warm and cozy snowman to brighten up someone’s home (most likely mine).