Cucurbita pepo (Gourds), sometimes referred to as Pumpkins incata-logues, are usually grown only for decoration. Some are edible but not particularly tasty, while others are definitely unsuitable for human con-sumption.
Gourds belong to the Cucumber family and are easily grown from seed sown in the spring in a box containing John InnesSowing Compost. When the are about 2 inches high transfer each one carefully. Plant each one in its own 4-6 inch pot or in a garden in a rich warm soil. The trailing plants need plenty of water and liquid fertilizer, and it is wise to tie the up a trellis or strings. Outdoors, support the developing fruits on pieces of wood or slate to prevent slug and moisture damage. Gourds are usually ripe for picking in the autumn. There are two ways of drying them. Cut them with 4 inch stems attached, tie with string and hang each from a beam or nails in a warm airy place such as an airing cupboard (if not too hot). Alternatively, place the gourds on a wooden tray in a warm room, turning them over from time to time. They will ripen completely in about 14-21 days, becoming much lighter in weight and ready for decora- tive purposes and . To give the fruits a glossy appearance, rub them with linseed oil or varnish. For a high gloss, paint them with clear varnish.
From a packet of mixed ornamental Gourdyou will get a number of fruits of various shapes, which can look like marrows, cucumbers, apples, pears, pumpkins and flattened melons. Size will vary considerably and colour will range from pale yellow to dark green, orange and white; often the colours are mixed in curious markings. Some Gourds have warty skins, which adds to their textural interest. It is also possible to obtain from certain seedsmen packets of of individual species: apple-shaped (pale striped cream), Turban (orange-red, white or yellow flattened ‘marrows’), pear-shaped (green and yellow striped), and small pimply hybrids (apple-shaped with multi-coloured; very bumpy skins).