I’m not sure where I came up with the idea to grow gourds on a swing set frame. It may have been from a few attempts on building fences that could not hold the weight of gourds.
It’s actually very easy to use a swing set to grow gourds on, very secure for the gourds and makes a great ornamental garden.
First I prepare the ground where the swing set will set. I prepare the ground on both sides of the set and on the ends. Knowing gourds are heavy feeder and that I want large gourds I mix a lot of fertilizer and compost into the ground and work it deeply into the soil. To control grass in the center of the set I cover the ground with paper and composted leaves.
I take my pre-started gourd seeds outside. They were started indoors in Styrofoam cups using a paper towel method then transplanted into homemade paper pots. By using paper pots that will break down in the soil means there will be one less shock for the seedlings.
Most swing sets have hooks at the top where the swings hung. I use these to string my heavy rope. I am using heavy rope for this project as this will hold my heaviest gourds.
I attach the rope to stakes that line up with the outer swing set base and pound them into the ground. The soil has been prepared for the seedlings so I will transplant them near the stakes and rope. After they are planted I water them well and cover the ground with thick mulch. I don’t place the mulch too close to the plants at this time until I know they are stronger and that I don’t have any insects that will hide in the mulch. After two weeks I feel the plants will not be attacked by any bugs.
Since the seedlings are tender I keep old plastic milk jugs nearby and will cover them, particularly at night when Beetles and Cutworms will attack.
At the end of the swing set I plant a few sunflowers for fun and color and to attract bees. I also plant a few Rattail Radishes for insect control and a few flowering vines. My swing set garden is now ready to grow.
When the gourds take off the set quickly becomes a mass of gourds and vines, I will trim the ends of the vines off to promote larger gourds. I also have a few night blooming flowers nearby to encourage pollination.
Tip: I Use Plastic pop bottles turned upside down and buried into the ground to make sure the gourds are getting enough water.
Old abandoned swing sets are fairly easy to find too. A Sunday drive will usually help you locate one and its amazing how people will give them away. Mine is from my brothers house. They were thrilled when I asked to get it.
GardenTip: Swing sets also make great temporary greenhouses or cold frames. I also use them to harden off seedling in the spring.
I usually harvest 100 gourds off my swing set. It’s more than enough for my gourding projects and I share a few too.
The only gourd I don’t grow vertically is the bushel gourd. I like to grow them too large and they have to rest on the ground. Usually they rest on a tin and I rotate them a small amount every few days. Bushel gourds are fun to grow and craft with but they weight a ton!
Gourd TIP: When the gourds get larger they will need a soft swing to hold them in place so that they will not damage the vine or stem. I use old pantyhose that I pick up at rummage sales.