Hello there fellow gourders
If you have been reading my blog you already know that this is the first year of raising my own gourds in a 10×10 garden right outside my studio. It has been such a thrill watching them grow, seeing them form and later, finding some hidden away in all the leafy mess!!
As the weather is cooling down and the garden is dying out my thoughts are on…
What’s next? What do I do now?
If you are growing gourds, I bet that is your thoughts now as well, unless you have had gourd gardens in the past and you already know what to do.
So I have been asking, and reading and basically the answer is
I don’t have to do anything!
Reality is I really have to do absolutely nothing, which is the kind of gardening I love. Gourds have been growing and maturing and hardening all by themselves FOREVER, without our help.
What I have read is that if you leave the gourd alone, all winter long, in the snow even if you get snow, that it will be just fine. In fact, several websites suggest that if you let them “do their thing” outside in the garden they are the better quality gourds.
The plants will die out at the first frost but the gourds themselves will be just fine.
But we can’t leave things alone, now can we?
So I decided to experiment.
OK, so I have to admit my first experiment, removing the gourds a little early from the plant, came about by mistake. As my garden became over grown and the runners hit the lawn, my hubby could not mow, so it became unsightly. I decided to clear out a bunch of those runners, leaving the ones with gourds alone, but I did not stop there, I continued into the garden, shears in hand to clean it up a bit. Inevitably I cut a few stems I should not have and severed the gourd from the plant.
So that is Experiment #1. What happens to a gourd when it is removed from the plant while the stem is green. At this point (about 2 weeks later) these gourds look great. I left them in the garden. Their stems have turned brown.
Experiment #2 is what is referred to as Green Cleaning. A fellow gourder from Facebook Group, Pyrography Gourd Art, recently posted a short video on green cleaning.
Green Cleaning by Paul R. Buhrmester. His short video led me to trying it on two of my gourds, so we shall see what happens.
Green Cleaning or Scaping of a gourd from start to finish
By far the easiest will be Experiment #3, which is leaving them alone, in the garden, all winter long !! Nuf said.
But here are a few things I did learn about drying gourds that I felt was necessary to pass along.
- They need lots of ventilation. A gourd is made of 90% liquid and that liquid needs to come out before the gourd is art workable. It does that by shedding it through its skin and stem. Therefore, if you harvest your gourds and place them someplace to dry make sure there is plenty of air flow. Don’t let them touch each other either.
- They smell while drying, so you want to make sure that you dry them someplace where the smell won’t be a concern. In other words drying in the spare room of your home is probably not a good idea. Only one website, amishgourds.com, mentioned this but I thought it was pretty important to note. You can read their whole post by clicking the their website above. Its a very informative read.
- Mold is basically a good thing because it means that the gourd is doing what it is supposed to do and that is shed the inside liquid. You can clean it off with diluted bleach or peroxide solution but it will pretty much come back. This is what causes the mottling affect (which I love) but if you want a really clear skinned gourd, wash it off.
- If there are soft spots or mushy spots on your gourd, throw it away, immediately. Its rotting and you can’t stop it. What I read is that you will always lose some, so kiss it goodbye and throw it in your compost pile.
- Your gourd is ready for crafting when it rattles when shook, meaning all the inside stuff is dried. But i did not really have to tell you that. If you work with gourds, you know what a dried gourd feels and sounds like!
With all that said, I will see what happens with all these gourds next spring.
I have already laid out my gourd garden for next year. It is a bit bigger (20′ x 24′). Right now I have big sheets of black plastic on the ground killing all the grass and weeds. Next spring we will till it up and I already have ideas for making fences for the gourds to grow up on.
I have laid out my gourd garden for 2014