By Kathryn Stocks

In the spring, Parvathy Viswanadh and Arun Guruswamy bought a little bottle gourd plant at a hardware store and planted it in one of their gardens after May 24. These gourds usually grow about 1 to 1½ feet long and that’s what they were expecting. But their gourd surprised them when it surpassed that length and just kept growing! 

Arun and their young son, Sarthak, were responsible for preparing the garden bed, adding fertilizer and then watering it morning and evening. They did a really good job. “We avoid vacation,” Arun said, “because if we go on vacation we can’t water the plants.”

This gourd that kept growing was the plant’s first fruit. During the summer all the other little gourds sprouting on the same plant gave up and dropped off. The plant was obviously putting all its effort into the big one. There was a trellis in that area for other vegetables but after a while the gourd took it over. 

It became so long and so heavy during the summer that Parvathy made a hammock out of an old curtain to support it. “All our neighbours came and saw it,” Parvathy said, “and they were like ‘Can we take pictures with it?’ It was kind of exciting for all of us.”

When they harvested the gourd in mid-August, they discovered it was 5.85 feet long and weighed 11 lbs.! They weren’t sure it was quite ready for harvesting at the time they carefully cut it down, but the fatter end was the right colour so they knew they’d be able to cook a large amount of it and share some with their neighbours. They also worried that animals might find the gourd if they let it grow any longer.

After they harvested it, Sarthak drew a little face on it and the huge green gourd looked like a sweet and friendly snake.

Parvathy and Arun moved to Canada from India five years ago and have been growing vegetables at their home in Centennial for four years. Parvathy said it took them a while to get used to Canadian weather and our growing season, but they seemed to have figured it out really quickly. Two years ago they grew an enormous pumpkin that weighed 73.5 lbs!

Asked whether or not they would ever want to grow another large bottle gourd, Parvathy said they are planning to save some seeds for next year. Will this gourd be a one-off or the first of many? Stay tuned.