Cruising The Fall Farmers’ Market For Gourds

By Mary Ellen Ellis | November 12, 2021
Image by Kristin Mitchell
by Mary Ellen Ellis
November 12, 2021

I haven’t grown any type of gourd since I was a kid, when we had pumpkins one season. Nevertheless, I have to have them in my house and garden as a fall staple. The best place to stock up on them? My local farmers’ market. 

Shopping for Gourds

There are many great reasons to get gourds at my downtown farmers’ market: 

  • Local production
  • Supporting local farmers
  • A wide variety of types
  • Decent prices

If you’ve ever gone to a garden center to buy gourds or tried to grow your own, you’ll know there are downsides. Unless you have a small farm, you can’t possibly grow as much variety as you’ll find from the pros. And at a garden center, you’ll pay decently for the festive decorative gourds. 

What I love so much about gourds, besides their being quintessentially fall, is the great diversity of shapes and colors. It’s too much fun to sort through the bins at the farmers’ market, picking out those that speak to me. 

The small, ornamental gourds are my favorites. These are Cucurbita pepo, the little guys that can be round, long necked, pumpkin-shaped, striped, or multi-colored. Last year, I found a variety called “Daisy.” Shaped like a small pumpkin, this gourd has a flower pattern on the stem end. I also found one called ‘Speckled Swan.’ It has a long neck, like a swan, and is dark green with white spots. 

Decorating with Gourds

I’ve seen some pretty amazing gourd art at the farmers’ market and at art fairs: gourds turned into purses, abstract sculptures, and decorative baskets, just to name a few. I’m not that ambitious by a long stretch. 

One year, I tried painting gourds. It turned out all right, but I’m not really an artist. Mostly, I like to leave gourds as they are, in their natural beauty, and arrange them to make fall décor. I let the gourds I’ve selected guide the arrangement, angling each one to show off its best side. 

I use gourd arrangements on my breakfast room table, just for me, so I can get some fall cheer each morning. I also put them out on the dining room table if we have guests, as a fall centerpiece. 

As the weather gets too cool for my front porch geraniums, I replace each large pot with a big Halloween pumpkin. Around those, I arrange the gourds. Of course, with the wildlife in my neighborhood, they don’t last forever, but I don’t mind. I get fall decorations and feed the animals. There’s zero waste. 

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