Growing Gourds (2010 crop)

For some strange reason we planted a couple hills of gourds. I have no idea really why we plant these, beyond the fact they look cool and will tolerate some shade (and therefore can be put in less productive areas of the garden). This year we went with Burpee "Small Fancy Mix" gourds. We planted these in small hills of about 6-8 seeds planted 1/2 inch deep. We marked each hill with a stick so we remember where we put them before they sprout! Now remember if you are planting a "mix" and don't plan on planting the whole packet of seeds, try to take seeds that "look" different. Otherwise, you might wind up with just one variety of gourd if you happen to plant just all of one type.

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Within a couple weeks, the gourds were sprouting.
By June 19th, the gourds had progressed to this stage.
By July 5th, the gourds were really taking off.
By the third week of July the gourds had progressed quite a bit. The first week of August, I had the first few small gourds forming.
By late fall I had harvested my entire collection of gourds (below). As you can see, we only ended up with a half dozen or so. Again, I think the problem was the lack of organic matter in the soil. The water simply drained out of the sandy loam I had. This will be corrected next year with the addition of some composted manure. After the gourds started to get spongy, I cut them in half and fed them to the chickens. They eat them eagerly (particularly the seeds).
By early fall, the vines had almost completely dried up.... not a very high yield.