Something I’ve been planning on growing for many years is ornamental gourds. For some reason they fascinate me. They have such a wonderful shape and when dried can be used for many creative projects. I especially like the Lagenaria or hard skinned gourds.
When to Harvest Gourds
Easy to plant and easy to grow, gourds are similar to pumpkins. Your gourds will grow green on the vine and turn to tan or brown as they dry out. An added bonus is the large beautiful pure white flowers that bloom at night. When you notice that the stems have dried out and turned brown it is time to harvest your gourds. This will most likely be late summer or early fall. They must be harvested before a frost or they will simply rot.
How to Dry Gourds
Drying gourds is a lengthy process as they take a long time to cure and dry. Once the outside has dried it can take up to six months for the insides to dry. After harvesting wash your gourds with soap and water and air dry. Rub each gourd with a bit of rubbing alcohol. Place them in a well ventilated area away from direct sunlight for about 1 week. The outer skin will harden and change color. Move to a dark well aired area and place a single layer on a screen or hang. Do not allow the gourds to touch each other as this will promote rot. Leave drying for about 6 months. Check your dry gourds regularly and throw away any that are decaying as they will only infect the others. Turn every couple of weeks so all sides are aired. Should you notice a bit of mold on the outer skin try wiping it away with a soft cloth dipped in bleach.
Crafting with Gourds
When totally dry your dried gourds will be hard and seeds will shake inside. They are now ready for you to use and become decorative gourds. If there is a bit of peeling on the skin you can use a bit of light sandpaper to polish it off. You can carve them for ornaments or birdhouses and feeders. Try hand painting gourds, waxing or shellacking. It’s all up to you so be creative. I enjoy water color and acrylic painting and plan to decorate my gourds that way. Visit Turning Gourds into Art for a tutorial on how to paint gourds. A few will also be turned into bird feeders for the winter months next year. You will most likely have more than you can use so create home spun gifts with the rest.
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(Some photos are from Pixabay / JamesDeMers / StillWorksimagery / Jazzyfresh / Steinchen)