Friday, January 9, 2009

Gourd Drying Novice

As the title states, I am a novice at drying Gourds! I have never grown gourds before therefore, I have never attempted to dry a gourd. Tina talked about drying her gourd crop yesterday and today, I will tell you how my gourd drying is going for me.
I was excited to have a crop of 7 gourds of various sizes. I planted one packet of seed that were simply titled "Gourds". It looks as though the packet had at least 4 different types of gourd seed.

Step one for anything new to arrive in the house is; the Sheba "Cat Scan"! Click on the video to see this process in action.

Being a novice with gourds, I asked our In the Garden, Master Gardener, Tina for advice. Her advice was to leave them on the vine until the end of the growing season which I did. Then to just simply lay the gourds on the garage floor. Only one problem to this process, we don't have an attached garage to the house but a 3-sided open carport instead! So the gourds would freeze in the garage or the shed. Hum, lets get the brain to thinking here shall we...
My solution: Hang them in the guest bedroom closet out of sight! I took Chenille sticks (fancy word for Pipe Cleaners) and carefully hung the gourds by the clothes pole of the closet as you see in the above picture. At this point, the larger gourds were so heavy that I feared they may fall to the floor. The brain worked and found a large piece of foam rubber from a crafting project laying around. To the floor the soft foam went along with some Fiber Fill (fake snow) still in bags. Good thing I did this because two gourds fell! Nice soft landing and they were not harmed from their fall.
*The picture of the hanging gourds was snapped on Oct. 29...
Three gourds started to dry in no time at all. As a bit of fuzz would pop up on them, I would just wipe it off with my finger tips and they dried looking really pretty. The one in the above picture did not begin to dry so pretty. I had not checked on it for a few days then I discovered an icky mess. It was wet and slimy and a bit gross to the touch. Oh no, will I loose this gourd to rotting?

While vacationing in Jamestown in mid-Oct, I saw a interpreter scraping gourds. I inquired as to what she was doing and she explained that if you remove the thin outer layer of the gourd, it will not mold and will dry quicker. Then while at Yorktown, I noticed the gourds were hanging to dry as the ones in my closet. I inquired as to why the Living History folks in Yorktown do not scrape them as the folks in Jamestown. She explained that scraping is a tricky process and one can scrap too deeply thus making the gourd more apt to rotting. I decided that if I left this gourd alone as was, it may rot and if I scrap it, it may rot. Hum, what's a gal to do? What the heck, Lets experiment and scrap it! Out came my crafting knife (a knife that once belonged to my grandmother and has assisted me in many craft projects) and I began to scrape the slimy goop off the gourd.

The picture to the left shows you the pretty color below all that slimy messy stuff. The picture to the right is the finished product. It did not take long to scrap as it came off with ease but I was still careful to not harm a second layer of skin below the mold. I hope so but time will tell.

I did the scraping job over the sink with a paper towel in the bottom for easy clean up. I decided that mold in the drain and septic tank may not be a good idea. To the trashcan it went with easy clean up! Back to the closet the gourd goes to continue drying with the others. As you can see I have 2 more large gourds just starting to yellow and dry a bit while one small one is yet to start drying.

*This picture of the hanging gourds was snapped on Dec. 19, 2008...

Now we jump to Jan. 8,2009 and find the scrapped gourd has been drying really well for me! How happy I am to find a drying gourd rather then a rotten one! I think this gourd will make a nice bird house this spring.
No seeds can be heard rattling inside the gourds so the gourds continue to dry in the closet. Now the larger two are turning that icky moldy brown color with some white fuzz. Should I scrap them since the other one seems to be okay?

Notice the one small gourd is still green? This thing was picked on Oct. 29 along with the others and here it is Jan. 9 and it has yet to start drying. Whats up with that?

I was not sure scraping would help or harm the gourd but this GOURD DRYING NOVICE, found out it worked for me! I am sure to grow more gourds, In the Garden...


  1. How interesting to know you can scrap the gourds to help dry. I amazes me how hard they get. Can't wait to see how all the gourds turn out.

  2. Hi Skeeter, We sell gourds at the greenhouse in the fall, and I have a friend who dries TONS of gourds, but I've never tried it. You've got me curious though. Next time I see my friend, I think I'll ask her some gourd l0l questions!

  3. Very interesting Skeeter! Your finished products look great! I'm anxious to see how you make the birdhouses!

  4. Skeeter, Now I leaned something today as I have never heard of scraping gourds. The one you scraped look great! I have a similar process but it would be your choice. Once the gourds are dry I scrub them with a wire pad and a bit of bleach to clear that outer layer. It is hard though. Maybe the scraping might be easier. I think all of yours will dry-with no rot. Funny how you got so many different shapes. Good thing they got a 'cat scan' too:)

  5. Looks like you did a great job with the gourds Skeeter. I've never grown gourds before, so thanks for the great info.

  6. Pretty neat Skeeter! I would go ahead and try the scraping again on the others. You did a great job with the first one. The birds will love their new home when it's finished!

  7. I got some green gourds from work several years ago and let them dry in the house. I am OK with the darker color on the outside and let it stay, and they dried just fine. I have also seen people lightly sand them with a very fine sand paper. A lady I know grows gourds that in the shape of really big apples and pears. She dries them, paints them with an airbrush and they look exactly like apples and pears. She sells them at craft shows for around $20-25 each.

  8. Skeeter -- great info and photos. In the photos with the gourds sitting together, they look like a little family!


  9. They look great Skeeter and how clever of you to have a chusion for them to fall to. I never would have thought of that. Can't wait to see the done deal.

  10. I remember some of mine drying with mold on the surface. After they dried, I rubbed it off with steel wool. That mottled look is kind of pretty if you varnish them.

  11. Dawn, Gourd Scrapping was news to me also after visiting VA last fall. Perfect timing for me with the gourds producing for me this year! It will be interesting to see how this all turns out in the end. Hopefully some birdhouses will be made but only time will tell...

    Garden Girl, Gourd Questions, too funny. lol This is my first attempt at gourd growing and drying. I had luck with growing so hopefully, the drying process will be a success as well. Time will tell and Tina and I should have updates on this gourd drying in a few weeks or so....

    Meadowview Thymes, I have had luck thus far but the drying process is not quit finished but looking good thus far. I am anxious to see how the birdhouse process will go as well. I have never tried this before so all new territory for me! Wish me luck...

    Tina, The Cat Scan is the most important part of the process you know. Well, according to Sheba! lol. She gets her nose into everything new, that little mess... The scraping was news to me also and I was lucky to see this process and ask questions while in Yorktown and Jamestown this past fall. I may go ahead and scrap the other two icky looking ones today. The one seems fine and I think they will be also. You just learn something new every day with this blogging...

    Racquel, this was my first try at growing gourds also. Tina and a few others kept talking about them last year so I had to try my hand at them with my love of the birds. I was totally thinking of bird houses for my gourds but as you see, a few will be too small for houses but will try my hand at painting them instead. Always seems to be something new to try with learning on these blogs!

    Dave, I think you are right that I should scrap the other two. The first one did so well that I think the others will be fine also. They are so icky looking with that slim on them and hanging in the guest bedroom closet as well. Arg, I need to get them pretty before we have over night guest again! lol. I think you should grow them as you mentioned yesterday on Tina’s posting with the girls as they can make crafts with them next winter!

    Les, I have seen some beautiful gourds at Craft Show’s before. That is one thing that got my attention with moving to GA 9 years ago. Gourds everywhere as bird houses and at Craft Shows being real works of art! After all the talk here on this blog a while back, I decided to give them a try at growing them and I had a bit of success. I hope to grow more this year as well. This has been a fun experience with the gourds and I hope more fun to come with more gourds and crafts in my future. I think I will scrap the remaining two gourds as sanding is not a fun thing for me. I refurnished a chest of drawers and dresser many years ago and the sanding was not fun so I think I will scrap the two gourds...

    Cameron, LOL the gourds in a grouping do look like a family dont they? I never thought of that before now. Maybe I should name them. :-) Sheba was taking careful inventory of the gourd family also...

    Jean, they were so heavy that I was not sure the pipe cleaners would hold them up. And sure enough, the two large ones fell to the ground but with a cushion fall so no harm done. The Saint calls me his Worry Wart as I worry about stuff all the time like the gourds falling. Ha, my nature I reckon a little bad trait that I must over come along with my Pine straw addiction I guess. tee hee....

    Marnie, I have seen them at Craft Shows with the spotted look and wondered how they got them painted that way. Now I know they dried that way naturally. I think it is pretty as there are no two alike with the spots. I was just afraid they were rotting instead of drying properly. I was thinking of scrapping the remaining two today but now I may leave one natural and see what happens to it. Hopefully dry naturally with a beautiful brown spotted pattern on it. Thanks for this reminder of the brown spotted color! I will give one a natural try then….

  12. Good Afternoon Everyone,
    That was a great informative post Skeeter. The pics are great. Now I know how to handle my gourds as they continue to dry. So far so good on mine as they are still looking almost like they did on the vine. Just the area where they were connected to the vine has started to turn brown.
    Have a good day all.

  13. Hey Lola, Hum, strange that your gourds are not turning a brown or yellow color yet. Wonder if they are another type gourd...?.. I am learning so much from this Garden Blogging and not all items are the same is the biggest lesson I have learned thus far. Not all things grow and act the same in different places so may be with your region being a bit warmer, it is hampering the drying process. It will be interesting to see what happens to them with more time. Keep us updated and maybe you can give us a gourd posting about them....

    I saw earlier where you have not been feeling well. Take care of yourself and get all better soon!

  14. I don't know anything about gourds! But I am interested in learning! I love the natural look ones Marnie described. Gail

  15. Skeeter, It looks like your experiment with gourd drying is going very well. I hope you didn't have too many guests staying in the guest bedroom during the holidays, though:)

    I can't wait to see the finished products from both you and Tina.

  16. I'm watching everyone with their gourd experiences. I might just plant them myself this next season!

  17. I also grow and dry gourds. I leave mine on the vine and outside for the winter. They dry naturally. Where they will drop I put a layer of mulch..pine needles or straw, (usually the remains of the October scarecrow.) I grow gourds every few years. They keep nice too. I have a large basket on the deck of three year old gourds. When I want one for crafting I just pick one out and lightly wash it using a steel wool pad, no soap, no bleach.
    Gourds are wonderful for scoops as well as bird houses. I love them for Halloween and Autumn decorations. I did two gourd Jack-o-lanterns a few years ago. They are so cute! I dyed them and used the dremel tool to cut them. Gourds take paint so nicely too.
    Gourd crafting is very fun.
    I read a few books from the library on gourd crafting years and years ago. One of the books had the leave outside way and it has worked for me.
    Yours will be fantastic with all the tlc you are giving them. Looking forward to seeing them all done up.
    I think there is something magical about gourds.
    Your post is inspiring me to go get a few gourds and do them up....

  18. Gail, Give them a try. I did and I am having so much fun with them! You can let them grow up a pole or tree if you dont have room. I noticed our neighbors have some going up a tree! They are drying on the vine while still hanging onto the tree...

    Rose, The gourds have been fun but keeping plants in the guest room has been a pain in the rump for me. I keep moving the plants into the closet with the gourds to hide them away when we have had company. One of our guest was Tina for a night and I would have left all the plants in the room with her as she would have loved to sleep with a room full of plants but Mr Fixit was with her and I removed them for him. tee hee... Are you listening Tina? :-) This gourd experience has been fun so far and hopefully, I will have a bit more fun with them once completely dried. I am like you, cant wait to see the final product...

    Brenda, that was my feelings last year when I was paying attention to everyone chat about growing gourds and crafting with them. I felt a bit left out then got motivated so decided to give them a try this year. And low and behold, I have some gourds to play with! Been a fun learning experience for me with this “Learn as you Go” fun I am having. Hopefully, I will get at least 3 bird houses from the gourds and some cute inside things as well. Maybe a little snowman with the one shaped similar....

    Sherry, I am excited to hear about your gourds and what luck you have with growing them! I hope I have fun crafting with them as you seem to. :-) I noticed our neighbors letting their gourds hang on the vine trailing up a tree and they are still drying as I type! So I guess there are many ways to dry gourds and not just one way. That makes it good for people like me that do the “Learn as you Go” method with new things. We have a dremel tool and I may try to get a bit creative with it. Thanks for the tip, I never thought of using the dremel. I use the old straw bales from the Fall Display to mulch the veggie garden. It worked so well for us last year that we will do that again this year. The straw is still in the woods where the display was located. Am sure it is full of water by now. We should have moved it to a spot to dry out a bit, maybe we will do that tomorrow as we plan to play in the veggie garden a bit. Thanks for reminding me of the straw when talking about your scarecrow and giving the gourds a soft landing. Have fun with your gourds!

  19. Now Skeeter, You know Mr. Fix-it would have been okay with the plants in the room-help us to breathe better and feel right at home. The hibiscus was lovely too and I am looking forward to that one!

  20. I've dried gourds in the past, and will again this year. I don't hang mine, perhaps it's lazy of me to just lay them on old newspaper, but they dried fine. If you dry them like I do, just don't let them touch each other. The hardest part for me was cleaning after drying. It's a chore and I've tried a couple different solutions. If anyone here knows of a really good liquid cleaning mix, please let me know. You have to clean your gourds after they dry if you want to paint them. I did apple gourds several years ago and they turned out really nice. I thing you'll enjoy gourding Skeeter. ;~)

  21. Thanks Skeeter. Old Arthur's got a strong hold on my right hand. Just wondering if maybe I should hang my gourds.

  22. Thats really interesting! I read somewhere that if you wipe them with bleach it protects against rot. I've never tried it because I let the gourds dry on the vine so the problem doesnt arise.
    Thats areally interesting hourglass-shaped gourd. I've never seen it here in India.

  23. Tina, I wanted Mr. Fixit to feel like he was on vacation and not at home being surrounded by plants., tee hee.... The hibiscus will be showing up soon….

    TC, I have enjoyed them thus far! Except for the 3 big ones the others are drying really clean. Will I still have to clean them before painting? They dont look or feel dirty at all. Hum, I see an experiment coming with this one...

    Lola, Oh mean Arthur, go away... I am not sure you should hang your gourds Lola as so many seem to not hang them. But you can give them a try and see what happens. Will not hurt to experiment with them in different ways...

    Sunita, So many ideas and different methods we are all passing around. Great info indeed! I hope the hour glass shaped one becomes a bird house for spring. If I am lucky, I will be sharing a bird family using the gourd. Only time will tell though. If we have a lot of gourds this year, I may leave some on the vine to see what happens since I noticed some in my neighbors yard drying on the vine climbing up a tree...

  24. This is really interesting! Thanks for all the great info. I don't think it's too late to plant some for this year. Thanks!

  25. How long did you let your gourds sit before you began the scraping process? I too am sort of a novice at crafting with gourds and wonder if there might be an easier way of cleaning them once dried. If scraping makes them easier to clean after they're dried, I might try it.

  26. I let the gourds hang until they start getting slimy. I dont know a better term then slimy. Once they soften and look kind of moldy, I take the knife to them. I am careful not to go deep while scraping. I just scrape off the top layer. You may get a bit of mold in a few days but just wipe it off with a paper towel and keep an eye on it for future mold growth. One scraping is all I did and it worked great for me. I let them hang dry until they were light as a feather then tap the gourds against my hand once I thought they were dry. Then the seeds broke loose and that confirms they are completely dry. A time consuming craft with growing, drying then crafting but most rewarding when a bird calls them home. From seed in the ground to home for feather friends.

  27. "Until they start getting slimy." Hmmm, I've not ever had any of my gourds get slimy Skeeter, unless they're in the rotting stage. They do get moldy though, is that what you mean by "slimy?" A couple of my littler ones are very light now, but I don't think they're quite "done." I don't think I'll do any scraping. I wrote an article about crafting with gourds here: A local artisan mentioned in that article has offered his expert help when I'm ready to start the crafting process.

  28. TC, Yep, the slimy stuff I talk of is indeed mold. As the gourd starts to turn moldy, I gently scrap it and then never had to clean them as they dry smooth as a baby’s bottom! I skipped the scraping process on some of my gourds last year and they were buggars to clean. I love the craft items people make with the gourds. The cottage house and snowmen were really cute. I have more gourds this year so surly I will do some crafting other then just a birdhouse. I love the Swan neck gourds and think I will seek those seeds out next year...