Grow Your Own Bottle Gourd For Use As A Musical Instrument, Sake Container, Or Decoration
Bottle Gourd or Calabash (vine)
The bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria (synonym Lagenaria vulgaris Ser.), also known as opo squash, or long melon, is a vine grown for its fruit, which can either be harvested young and used as a vegetable, or harvested mature, dried, and used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe. The fresh fruit has a light green smooth skin and a white flesh. Rounder varieties are called calabash gourds […]
The gourd was one of the first cultivated plants in the world, grown not primarily for food, but for use as a water container. The bottle gourd may have been carried from Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas in the course of human migration, or by seeds floating across the oceans inside the gourd. It has been proved to be in the New World prior to the arrival of Columbus.
Gourds are still widely used in Japan to carry water and sake. Double-headed gourds (the ones with two large heads with a skinny neck between) are best for carry, as you can tie a string around the neck and throw it over your shoulder like a purse!
In the Afro-Brazilian martial arts Capoeira, a gourd is used to construct the essential musical instrument to the roda, or “round game”, the berimbau. The berimbau sets the pace, partner switch, and the beginning and end of each roda, the equivalent of a match in other martial art forms. Watch basic capoeira moves to the tune of the berimbau. Bottle gourds can also used as resonators in banjos.
To grow my own re-usable water bottle and musical resonator straight from the vine, I was given all the seeds removed from a medium size, double-headed dried bottle gourd that had been hollowed out to make a bowl after sitting in a basketry store for possibly many months. You can see the amount of seeds taken from just one individual bottle gourd below.
I planted 5 seeds into two small clay containers, and watered them for about 2 months before they germinated and sprouted so be patient, especially if you are working from the seeds of a dried gourd! You could probably spend the process by soaking the seeds in water before you plant them into potting soil. Soon this sprout will become a vine and a lattice to climb.
For easy collecting, and an aesthetic touch, grow the vine on an over-head lattice and let the gourds fall below as they start maturing (see the picture below for ideas). And while you wait for those prized fruits (yes, it’s a fruit) to drop, try snaking on some steamed bottle gourd leaves (this is the veggie, below).
This is one useful plant!