Gourds are always an interesting addition to the garden. If you’re growing gourds, you’re likely more interested in ornamentals than food. And with some gourds, you can get very ornamental. The bule gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is a very good example – it’s weird, it’s bumpy, and it’s so ugly that it’s really pretty attractive.
Information on Bule Gourd Plants
The bule gourd (pronounced BOO-lay) is also commonly known as the African warty gourd, though this term may not be correctly used. Bule, in some regions, translates more or less to ‘Blistered Apple,’ and is perhaps a more accurate name for the plant. It’s a French heirloom that grows to about 6 or 8 inches in diameter. The gourds are roughly apple shaped, sometimes with round bottoms, and sometimes with flat ones. But that’s all beside the point. The big draw with the bule gourd is the little warty bumps that completely cover its surface, giving it a rough, irregular shape.
As to bule gourd history, little information is available specifically for this type, but gourds themselves have been around a long time – many having been brought to Europe and the Americas as early as 11,000 BCE and to Asia by 6,000 BCE. Across many cultures, various types of gourds have been used for tools, drinking vessels, bird houses, musical instruments and artwork; and the bule gourd is no exception, as these make unique specimens that can be dried for autumn décor.
Growing Heirloom Gourd Plants
You can grow bule gourd plants just like most gourds. They take about 110 days to mature, so they may need to be started indoors before the last frost of spring if your growing season isn’t especially long. The vines tend to grow between 15 and 30 feet, but you can help the gourd-making process along by pinching of the main vine once it reaches about 12 feet. This will encourage the plant to put out more secondary vines, meaning more male and female flowers will bloom at the same time.
You can pick the gourds when they’re still green, but it’s best to let the vine brown or die back from fall frost naturally. When this happens, pick your gourds, scrub them with soap and water, and leave them out in a cool place to dry. It may take a while, and the gourds may get a little moldy, but don’t be afraid! As long as the gourd is hard to the touch, it’s fine. Just wipe off that mold and let the process continue. If the gourd gets squishy, however, it’s a lost cause. Cut it open and save the seeds as a consolation prize before throwing it on the compost heap.