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About Turk's Turban Gourd: The origin of gourds has been a subject of debate for decades. Archaelogical findings seem to show that Asia first domesticated the gourd for use as a container, though Africa and several island nations such as Polynesia and New Zealand also have an early history of using gourds as fishing floats, bottles, or musical instruments. Recent research shows that North America's gourds are nearly as old as those of Asia, which seems to suggest that early peoples who settled in the New World brought gourds with them.

Turk's Turban Gourd Germination: In shorter growing seasons, start gourd seeds indoors in peat pots 3-4 weeks before the last frost. To speed germination, soak the seeds overnight. Plant the seedlings outdoors in rich soil and full sun after the last spring frost. For direct sowing, wait until the soil warms to 70 degrees F, then plant 5 seeds per hill, 1" deep, with 5' spacing; later, thin to the strongest plant.

Growing Turk's Turban Gourd Seeds: Keep the soil evenly moist. When the vines begin to develop, either provide a trellis or lay down mulch to keep the gourds from contact with the soil; too much soil contact can weaken the shell, distort the shape, and cause rotting.

Harvesting Turk's Turban Gourd: Late in the summer, the skin of the gourd should feel extremely hard, too hard to pierce with a fingernail. Leaving the gourds on the vine until the stem and leaves of the gourd begin to wither and turn brown is also a good indication of ripeness. Cut off the gourd, leaving about 2" of stem. Wash it with a solution of soapy water, then let it cure in a dry place for several weeks in order to preserve it for decorative use. Underripe gourds work well for carving, but will start to rot several weeks after picking.

Saving Turk's Turban Gourd Seeds: When the gourds have fully matured, cure them in a warm dry place for 3-4 weeks to allow the seeds to ripen. Cut them in half to remove the pulp that contains the seeds. Rinse off the pulp, and put the seeds in a container of water; the good seeds will sink to the bottom. Spread the good seeds out on a flat surface to dry for about 2 weeks. When a seed will snap in two, it has dried sufficiently. If the seed only bends but will not break, further drying time is needed. Store the dry seeds in a cool, dry place for up to six years.

Detailed Turk's Turban Gourd Info: Cucurbita maxima. Also known as Turk's Turban Winter Squash, the Mexican Hat. Annual. 100 days. 95 seeds per oz. 18-24" height. 5-6' spacing. Produces 3-5 lb orange, green and white gourds with a distinctive "turban" shape.

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