A Barely Controlled Vine

pumpkin vine

Last year, I said that I would never grow a pumpkin vine in my vegetable garden again….

pumpkin vine

We did get a single pumpkin, but I was not prepared at how much the pumpkin vine grew inside and outside of my garden.

Now before you say that I should have read how large a pumpkin vine grows before I planted one – I did read how big they can become.

However, it is something to read it on paper and another thing entirely to see it happening in your own garden. I wrote about it last year – “Escapee From the Garden”

So this year, I kept my word.  I did not plant any pumpkins.

Instead, I decided to plant two bird house gourd vines….

pumpkin vine

Now I almost wish that I had pumpkin vines instead 😉

Although my bird house gourd vines are rooted in my vegetable garden, most of them are growing outside of its confines.

I decided to plant bird house after I saw them when I visited Amish country in Pennsylvania last year.  They were perfect for making bird houses out of and I couldn’t wait to try it out.  

pumpkin vine

Right now, I have at least 4 gourds growing, but there may be many more.  It is hard to tell with all of the vines and leaves covering them up.

Each week, I am kept busy removing the seeking tendrils of the bird house gourd vines from my cucumber plant cages as well as from my bush beans.

I do enjoy watching this plant grow and I will probably grow it next year, but not in vegetable garden.  I will have to look for a bare area where it can grow to its heart’s content.


Have any of you had any experience growing pumpkins or gourds?  Did your vines grow all over your garden?  Or perhaps, you paid attention to the directions on the seed packet and placed your vines in a spot with more space 😉  

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
9 replies
  1. Tania
    Tania says:

    I've had similar experiences with both pumpkin and bird-house gourd vines. I always plant these as well as my squash and cucumbers at the end of the garden so that all the space they take up is outside the garden.

  2. Jan at Love It
    Jan at Love It says:

    One year my kids planted a pumpkin and the vine grew through our fence into the neighbors yard and one nice big pumpkin grew over there and my kids were mad that they kept it for themselves! But, we did have more on our side of the fence as well, just smaller ones 🙂

  3. Solitude Rising
    Solitude Rising says:

    We experimented growing birdhouse gourd (entry title: "Imported") in our farm but being in a tropical country and a year of unpredictable rain it grew and produced several gourds but the entire vine and the gourds rotted before they could mature 🙁

  4. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    my pumpkin ( rather calabaza squash) vines are growing all over, including in the neighbour's yard but they love the free pumpkins!

  5. Arminda
    Arminda says:

    I didn't even know you could grow pumpkins in AZ – I associate them with cool weather and fall days. I moved to Tucson this year and learn something new every time I visit your site!

  6. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Hi Noelle, what a fun post. We have lots of native gourds but here in the tropics we sometimes just allow them to climb the trees near them, and when they grow so profusely, they can even kill the smaller bush. But we enjoy getting the fruits from the trees, sometimes we even use ladders. We also like squash tops and young stems as vegies. Those bird gourds are very beautiful and Skeeter last year sent me seeds, however i wasn't able to make them grow. How i wish we can grow them here as nicely as yours.

  7. biobabbler
    biobabbler says:

    Oh, I def. have had pumpkins growing outside the garden, and therein I learned that rabbits and deer will eat pumpkin, eventually. =) So, now I know if I want to keep it, I have to keep it inside the fence. It's fun to watch them wander, though.

  8. Jody
    Jody says:

    Yes, before moving to a desert I loved to grow pumpkins. I like stuff a bit messy and out of control, exuberant, had a big place.

    We do have wild gourds here in the southern Sierras, so gourds should do well, carefully chosen. But I haven't tried either since coming to a dry area. Having to learn how to garden all over.

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