The circle of life on our gourd farm all starts here. We haven’t finished gathering last year’s crop from our fields and already this year’s crop is started in the greenhouse. Yes, it really does take a whole year for a gourd to be grown and dried. The flats you see will spend about two weeks in the greenhouse being babied with the moistest and warmest atmosphere we can create. Temperatures will exceed 110 degrees with humidity in the 80 percent range. This seems a bit extreme but they LOVE it. This is the time to treat them like a newborn by eliminating any kind of stress possible.
Their next two weeks will be the time to start adding stress, very gently at first, and then increased slowly until they are tough enough to be planted in the fields. This will be done by turning the temp down daily until we add no heat at all. Fans will be directed towards the plants to strengthen them for the winds they will certainly face when outdoors. Their water will be restricted to prepare them for the shock of being planted in the fields. It’s a lot like raising healthy children, at first you baby them and then you carefully help them build strength for the stresses life has waiting.
The next step of being transplanted into the fields is likely the most traumatic phase of their life. They can no longer be babied. If the weather gets cold and wet they need to be prepared to survive. If it gets hot and dry we can add water but have no way of protecting them from the scorching sun. Their only hope is to be strong enough to survive until the perfect weather comes. The first week in the fields will decide if they live or die. Hopefully, they will live and produce gourds but just how many and how well will be determined by two main factors; what kind of summer weather they live in and how well the gourd keeper cares for them.