(First example of an actual submission)
1. Describe how did you start your seed?
First let me tell you how we acquired the seed! It began with watching the terrific Jim Story video that Terry Noxel gave me; the one put out by the Indiana Chapter. After watching that I had to call Glenn Burkhalter, and he put me in touch with Norm Brickner. I decided I needed to find really really good Extra Long-Handled Dipper seeds! So, I got seeds from 3 different sources. Unfortunately, I can't tell you which source this seed came from. But this year (2014) we grew an Extra Long-Handled Dipper that is 6'3”!! So, long is still quite long!
We started our seeds indoors, in 4-inch peat pots, in late April. We took the little seedlings out daily, to get them used to the bracing New York State fresh air. We planted them out in early June, a few days after a very late frost. We set them under little bonnets made of row cover, for a little extra protection. By late June they were on their way up the trellis!

2. How did you select the garden site?
Our site for this plant was along a trellis over a path between our house and the chicken coop. It's a path frequented by my neighbors, who enjoyed watching the gourds progress. The main problem with this site was the lack of a fence.

3. Did you have your soil tested for pH level? Did you have it tested or did you do it yourself?
We did not test the soil. A few years prior, we had the town drop off a large truckload of leaves at that spot, and the soil was nice and loamy.

4. What technique did you use on your gourd entry? Explain how you obtained this shape.
This is a knotted gourd, grown the first year we that we tried putting knots in gourds. When it was a little teeny pepo, still wet behind the ears, and a bit limp (in the heat of the day), I nudged it. Gently. Then, a short while later, I nudged it again. And so on.

5. How was your gourd supported?
Supported on a trellis, but not high. What distinguishes this gourd is the looseness of the knot. Tight knots are valued by some, we know, but we prefer a relaxed, graceful knot. This gourd actually dropped a bit during a wind storm, but the vine didn't break. So the proximity of the gourd to the ground was very helpful in this circumstance.

6. Describe methods you used to water, fertilize your gourd in your garden? Did you use a special fertilizer?
We planted in a large hill of composted manure (2 wheel-barrow loads!). The manure we get is from a farmer who uses the methane from his manure pile for some of his energy needs. What's left after his process is perfect for the gourds! We didn't fertilize after the gourd was in the ground, but watered lots.

7. What pruning, thinning techniques were implemented?
The vine was pinched when it reached 10 feet, but otherwise the plant was allowed free range of the trellis.

8. Did you have Pest or Disease problems with your gourd plant? How did you handle them?
Because of the lack of a fence, the deer and rabbits also had free range, so Otto spent a lot of time spraying nasty-smelling stuff to keep them away. We do have cucumber beetles every year, and we are committed to organic methods of pest control. This year we came up with a pretty good way to manage the cucumber beetles... I'll write more about that next year, if we enter the contest again!

9. Describe how you manipulated your gourd? What type of ties? If you used a mold was it purchased or handmade? Was the mold made of plaster, plastic, wood, etc? Do you have a picture of the mold
Gentle nudging.

10. Describe the method you used to cure, dry and clean your gourd?
We used the “hands-off” gourd-curing technique: our gourd sat outside all winter to cure. We opted not to green-clean this gourd, because we had had unfortunate results with that technique in the past. We soaked the gourd for a couple of hours at the nifty gourd-cleaning station (livestock trough on a stand) that Otto built, and cleaned it with a copper pot-scrubber.

11. Additional comments you would like to make to explain your entry.
We are very glad to be submitting this gourd from 2013 for entry in the Jim Story contest. We have fun talking with visitors to Gourdlandia who ask about it, and we always admit, after a while, that we were the only entrants in the New York State contest this year. Hopefully we'll have more gourdgrowers as our chapter takes root!

(Second example of an actual submission)

1. Describe  how did you start your seed?
The seed was started  indoors  about April 1 in a small peat pot filled with seed-starting soil. The pot was kept on a heating pad set on "Low" until the seed germinated. Soil was kept moist. Jim taught  me that  May 10 is the safe date for transplanting to the outside  garden. I follow  Jim's rules!!

2. How did you select  the garden  site?
The garden  is located  in the rear yard at my home. There are NO TREES!!! My  plants enjoy all daY sunshine.

3. Did you have your soil tested  for pH level?  Did you have it tested  or did you do it yourself?
I tested  the soil myself by using the Rapitest Soil Test Kit. The test revealed that my soil PH level  was acceptable for gourd growth'

4. What technique  did you use on your gourd entry? Explain  how you obtained  this  shape.
Knotted + Molded
My entry  was a combination:  knotted and grown in a mold. The gourd bulb was inserted  into  a small  eight-sided  drinking  glass and grew to the shape  of the  glass. The gourd  was powerfll!! lts  growth  bioke  the glass!! I usually  need to tap  the glass with I hammer  io break  it when harvesting  the  gourd. The knot was made when the gourd  was about  eight inches  long  and on a very warm day.

5. How was your gourd supported?
I enclose  a photograph of my arbor. Notice that  the gourds have friends  - Micky and Minnie Mouse are there  also!!

6. Describe  methods  you used to water, fertilize  your gourd in your garden?  Did you use a special  fertilizer?
Watering depends  mostly on volume  of rain  fall. In dry weather,  I water every other day. I do not believe  that gourds  can be overwatered.  I add fertilizer  when preparing the soil for  transplanting.  I typically  use a well-balanced  10-10-10 fertilizer.  I also use manure tea  all season  long. I obtain  fresh  cow manure from  a farmer  friend;  use bucket  1/3 full  of manure and  the  rest  is  water. I use the  tea at least  twice  a week

7. What pruning,  thinning  techniques  were implemented?
I prune all vines when they reach l0: in length on the top of the arbor. This stimulates giowth of laterals and causes  gourd production. Occasionally  I will prune a lateral  to create  sub-laterals  and hopefujty  moie gourds. I prune all leaves  and vine starts between  the ground and the arbor as shown in the photo.

8. Did you have Pest or Disease problems  with your gourd plant? How did you handle  them?
I am most fortunate  in this regard. I know of no pest or disease.  problems. l do spray the vines and the gourds once a week with Sevin. I believe  this protects  the plant and the gourds.

9. Describe how you manipulated  your gourd? what type  of ties?  lf you used a mold was it purchased  or  handmade?  Was the mold made of plaster,  plastic,  wood, etc? Do you have a picture  of the mold itself?
The gourd was knotted  when it was about six inches  long  and on a very hot day - over 80 degrees. Thankfully,  it didn't breakl! I inserted  the bulb into  the glass.mold  when it would just make a snug fit.  A picture  of the glass is enclosed  herewith.

10.  Describe  the method you used to cure, dry and clean your gourd?
I did not harvest  the gourd until frost and cold weather had killed the vines. I green cleaned  the gourd and its stem upon harvesting. My friend  Jim always stressed  to me the importance of green cleaning.

After green cleaning, the gourd was maintained in my garage until all interim  moisture was gone.

I use a boy-scout  knife to green clean the bulk of the gourd. I use a length  of rough wire to clean around the knot. This is a chore!!!

11. Additional  comments  you would like  to make to explain  your entry.
I have previously advised the American Gourd Society of the circumstances surrounding  my frlendship  with Jim and Jane Story. lf needed,  this can be found  in my entry in the 2010 competition.  I also enclose

I appreciate  the taking  of your time  to serve as judges.
(Third example of an actual submission-- .pdf file will open in a new window)