(Lagenaria siceraria unless stated otherwise) Whether true gourds, angled gourds or edible gourds, these squash relatives are all originally from Africa and Asia, and all need similar conditions: a long season of hot weather and abundant moisture in a rich soil. Gourds may be direct sown into warm soil or started indoors a few weeks early. The fruit will be straighter and more symmetrical if the long vines are trained up a trellis, but all may be allowed to sprawl along the ground. Some may run 20 feet! The edible sorts are best harvested when young, tender, and mild tasting. In longer season areas, you can sow seeds directly in the garden once soil has warmed to about 70 degrees. Gourds can have spotty germination; be sure to plant seeds in good soil with plenty of organic matter. Be patient; seeds can sometimes take up to three weeks to germinate! Growers with a shorter growing season should start seeds indoors three weeks before last frost. For growing: Set plants out into good well-drained soil after frost has passed. Set plants 24 inches apart; they will climb and trail, so be prepared for a garden takeover! Keep plants well watered. Gourds are grown much like squash, and thanks to their tough skin, they are often better at fighting off pests than other cucurbits. A thick layer of mulch is absolutely crucial; the vines will be very difficult to keep weeded once they start trailing. Mulch will help to keep weeds down and retain moisture.