Betty Robbins is no novice gourd grower.
The East Laurinburg native has been planting the fruit in the backyard of her Seventh Street for about 15 years. But this year’s crop of gourds started growing and didn’t seem to want to stop.
Robbins is wide-eyed as she tries to lift one of the baseball bat-like gourds off the ground. She said it must weigh close to 10 pounds. Robbins’ daughter, Beverly Scott, measured one of the gourds at 46 inches.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Robbins said. “That is why we are so amazed.”
Robbins, who serves on the East Laurinburg Town Board, said she does not have any green thumb secrets for growing gourds, one of the earliest crops to be domesticated by man.
“I’ve never had them grow this big before or have even grown this kind of gourd before,” she said. “Maybe growing it on the flag pole helped because they were hanging down, but that is just a guess.”
Robbins said she is not sure what she will do with her gourds. In the past, she has dried out the smaller ones and used them as bird houses or as ornaments. Gourds can also be used to make musical instruments and utensils.
“One year we had a lot of them so the grandchildren painted them and threw in up in the tree,” Robbins said. “All painted up, they make pretty decorations.”
There are a number of prizes and contest dedicated to large or unique gourds, but Robiins has no plans to enter any of them.
“For me this is just a fun hobby,” she said. “I like to piddle.”