Hey Peter,This is Debbie from mercy Cares For Kids (you were out here several years ago to teach the children about composting. This year we are looking for a vine that will grow and spread fast to cover an old swing set frame to make a shady play area for the children. We saw the large bottle gourds and thought that would be a great learning project as well as providing shade. The children would be able to watch it go from vine to producing flowers and then the gourds. Once they could be harvested , the children could make bird houses or use them for decorations at their family harvest luncheon in November. Do you think the vines would grow fast enough to provide shade? (We were thinking of using either string, wire or netting for it to climb on. Any helpful suggestions?

If you plant the gourd seeds during at the beginning of the first week of May after danger of frost, they should start to provide some shade by the end of June or so.  String netting would be best since wire can get hot in the sun which could be a problem for the gourds.

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