Most gourds take an extended growing season and really like warm weather.
I live in Zone 5 and have a unpredictable spring so I have learned that certain crops are more challenging for me and gourds are one. But I love them!
Bushel , Canteen, Swan, Kettle, Dippers, and the other larger gourds can easily require a growing season over 100 days. For me to grow gourds successfully I need to use methods to get them going faster.
Gourd seeds can also take up to three weeks to germinate. So, one day while experimenting I tried spouting the seeds using styro foam cups and paper towels. The results were amazing!
I took a few seeds of each of my bigger gourds and wrote the name on the outside of the styrofoam cup. I put a damp paper towel in the bottom and placed the seeds on top of that. Then I placed another damp paper towel on top of that and set them on the counter.
I would check the paper towels every time I went by to see if they were still damp. If they were drying out I sprinkled the towels with water from a bottle mister.
In less than three days these seeds were beginning to sprout.
Many people say that gourd seedlings shouldn’t be moved but I have had good luck doing so.
As soon as the seedlings are showing signs of roots, usually in five days I transplant them individually into homemade biodegradeable paper pots. Using compost from my compost pile and a little fertilizer to give them an extra boost.
In a week I will move them into hot frames and then into cold frames. I usually keep the gourd section of the garden covered too at first until I know the gourds are transplanted and happy.
I have used this method for about six years. They grow well and produce well.
I like growing the bushel gourds and want them as large as possible so that I can make end tables and storage boxes out of them. I also like the long handled dippers to grow long. I make instruments out of them and sometimes will take them when they are young and flexible and tie a knot into the handle. It gives them a unique artistic look. Yes, I break a few while doing this but I know I will so I plant twice the plants I think I will need.