Friday, February 6, 2009

Final Gourd Preparation Steps

So now your gourds have completed the process of drying-you can now cha-cha by shaking the gourd and hearing the seeds rattle. This means the gourd is dry. But it is looking a bit ugly with mold and discolorations on the gourd-what do you do now?

I use a strong wire scrubber and a sink full of a bleach water mixture and I scrub the mold off of the gourds. There are many procedures you can employ to take the moldy crust off from the gourds, but I have found this one works well for me. You do need to put some elbow grease into the job, as the residue is not the easiest thing to clean. But once done you have something that looks like this!
This gourd is ready for fun! It is totally up to the crafter what they do with the gourd from here. Here are some suggestions from me to you. If you intend to paint the gourd and keep it in the house as decor, you need not do anything else to this gourd. If you wish to use the gourd outside as either decor or as a birdhouse, a few more things need to be done. First of all drill about four holes in the bottom of the gourd to allow for water drainage. Next, drill two holes in the top to allow for a piece of wire inserted in order to hang the gourd. Floral wire or a coat hangar works well to use as a hangar on your gourd. You should wear a dust mask when drilling into any gourds. If you intend to paint or varnish the gourd now is the time to do so. Once painted and prepared you may want to either seal it with polyurethane or a good coat of car wax. It is totally up to the crafter. I usually use polyurethane, but car wax would work too.

If you intend to use the gourd as a birdhouse you must decide what type of bird you wish to attract. Once you determine this then drill the correct size hole to attract that bird. You do this with a hole drill attachment, it is quite easy. Once you open up the gourd clean the seeds and fiber out as best you can. I also suggest you wear rubber gloves and a dust mask while cleaning the inside of the gourds. One important note on purple martins, unless you have a large open area (maybe 3 acres and up) with water nearby, you are unlikely to attract martins. Most likely you will attract sparrows to nest in the gourd. I personally enjoy the sparrows at my house. Purists will gasp that I allow them to nest in my gourds, but it is a personal opinion and choice.

I so enjoy watching the busy little sparrows. They are quite prolific, but good parents. Once the fledglings leave the nest, the parents still feed them for a while longer. The babies will line up right outside my kitchen window for their meal, compliments of one of the parents. It is hilarious how much these kiddos mooch off from their hard working parents.

Generally speaking gourds can last several years in the garden. I use mine mainly for decor on my gourd tree out front. At the end of the season I usually give the gourds away as gifts or store for another day. The above gourd found a home with Gail. I will be interested to see what she does with it.

I have four of about 10 gourds dry so far. I will wait until they are all dried to craft with my gourds. Once dried, I believe I will be painting them in the style of Warli painting. I will adjust the manner of painting suitable for my purposes, but like the simplicity of Warli painting. Sunita told me she painted a gourd in the Warli style and first introduced me to this unique style of painting. It is a natural style that will work well for the gourds this year. When the time comes I'll try to fit a post in. The problem with blogs, is there is just only so much time and too much to talk about! Here is very short video (12 seconds) showing the sparrows in my painted gourd birdhouse. This gourd has hung outside my kitchen window for about two years now and always hosts the sparrows. They are busy right now, as you can see.

in the garden....


  1. Tina, isnt it wonderful how they go from ugly to gorgeous with a few scrubs?
    I'm waiting to see your warli painting on the gourd. I think I'll do another one in the same style. It'll be fun to see what we both come up with. I did love the one I had done earlier but my son's indoor-soccer put a huge crack in it. Not very noticeable at a quick glance but ...

  2. Excellent info, Tina! I can't wait to grow my gourds and make something from them. I'll refer back to your posts for guidance...

  3. I'm going to try to grow these again. The video is neat, awesome to see little birdies at a home like that!

  4. Good morning Tina. Once again you have shown us all how to do something in an easily understandable way. You could write a crafting book! I love that Warli style and think it is perfect for the gourd's natural appearance and coloration. I have used paste wax on mine to good effect. Also I used an engraver tool, originally bought to make plant labels on those zinc stakes. It is easy to make a design on the gourd, then seal it with wax or poly. I too want to see what Gail does with hers!

  5. Good morning Tina,
    I like the clip at the end with the birds. Also think the gourd is pretty interesting looking after you take the moldy stuff off.

  6. You are so talented! I couldn't even paint them a solid color! If I could though--I would make mine a birdhouse with sunflowers, and the hole would the the center of a sunflower...sigh.... :)
    Have a great weekend Tina. (daughter is coming in to try on wedding dresses this weekend!) :)

  7. Going to grow gourds this year, any suggestions? I have a shelf full of some my mom grew and they are so pretty just sitting around.

  8. Tina -- wonderful post about gourds! I really need to talk with our HOA to see if we can use deer fencing in a section of our land so that we can grow some gourds (and veggies).

    You were talking about putting elbow grease into the scrubbing. Will "Bar Keeper's Friend" work? It's a no-scratch cleaner that I use on my pots, pans and baking dishes.


  9. Good Morning All,
    Great info in this post Tina. I had 2 gourds grown from last summer. They are not quite ready as I don't hear any rattle. And yes, they are moldy. So now I know how to clean them thanks to your post. When they are ready I think I'll take them outside to clean.
    I do intend to grow more this summer. Hopefully they will produce some.
    Loved the video.
    Have a great day all.

  10. Tina,

    Oh the pressure is on...tag teaming me, too! I have to be honest and tell you it is residing in a wabi-sabi manner with seed heads, seed pods and other interesting bits of nature. I will keep it natural and probably apply car wax~~thank you for the link.

    Have a good weekend! I think garden weather is arriving.


  11. Tina, thanks for introducing me to that unique Warli style.

    I visited a crafting site this week that featured decoupage. They were using things like photos, pictures and even wallpaper cutouts to decorate birdhouses.

  12. Tina,

    Do bluebirds nest in the gourds at all? We have a pair of bluebirds that I'd like to make a home for. I was going to do it with wood but gourds might be neat for next year. A very neat project!

  13. Oh what I nice idea!! I've never seen before! Great!! :) You are an artist :)!! I wish you a wonderful weekend - Kessi

  14. Thanks for this. I just love the look of gourd birdhouses!

  15. You're so creative, Tina. I'd love to see your gourd done up in the Warli style. Sunita's must be good too.
    Loved the bird video. Your gourd bird house is unique.

  16. Tina, I find myself looking over the packages of gourd seed every time I go shopping now, thanks to you:) This is such a clever idea, and you've explained the process all so clearly. I think my grandkids would love helping with this--not the bleach scrubbing and drilling, of course. Looks like I might be expanding the vegetable garden this summer!

  17. Sunita, It will be a while before I get to mine but I'd like to see your gourd too. Kids and their balls-I tell ya!:)

    Susan, They are so fun and very pretty to grow-just leave lots of room.

    Dawn, They would be great for your crafting. You've got lots of room. Put some seeds by the pond.

    Frances, I think I am leaning toward paste wax this year. I like it you can renew it and it is shiny. Any special kind? Johnson's?

    Janet, They are really like beautiful wood once dried and cleaned. A fun thing I think.

    Linda, I've seen gourds with the sunflowers with the hole in the middle. They are so charming. Have a great time with your daughter. I did this with my daughter a few months ago and it was very fun. Take your camera so you can snap photos.

    Darla, If you want to use them outside grow anything BUT the birdhouse gourds. I sincerely recommend only seeds labeled "Martin Gourds". I don't trust collected seeds as I think gourds hybridize but you can find gourd seeds easily. The martin gourds grow bigger and are more stable in my experience.

    Cameron, I have never heard of Bar Keeper's Friend. It wouldn't hurt to try it. I hate scrubbing the gourds. I don't believe the deer would eat gourd vines. They have a distinctive odor so the gourds just might work for you.

    Lola, Yes! You did well with your gourds on your arbor. Plant some more as they are so fun. Make sure to buy the seeds though.

    Gail, Leaving it natural and in a bowl works too. Whatever you wish to do it is your choice. I just wanted you to see your gourd preserved for all of posterity on the web:)

    Marnie, I love the idea of decoupaging gourds! I have enough I may just try this too. I have always been intrigued by it. Sunita told me of the warli style and I thought it interesting. Everyday I learn just how much I do not know-good thing I blog:)

    Dave, I am positive the bluebirds will NOT nest in gourds. They prefer the wooden boxes. I have had several nest in plain old boxes not even labeled bluebird in my garden. So just put out a few and I bet a pair will take up residence. The sparrows on the other hand, love the gourds and also the boxes too. Sometimes they drive away bluebirds and we have a battle. No one gets the box then. Good luck! One bit of advice, get a box that can be opened or add hinges to the roof. I like to look at mine and the girls would like that too.

    Kessi, Thanks! You have a great weekend too.

    Helen, They are fun-especially when you grow your own-that's more my thing I think.

    Kanak, I'll post some pics once they are all done and hanging on my gourd tree. This red/white and blue gourd was from my patriotic theme. It has held up well and I was shocked when residents took over. I never expected this but I so enjoy it. The video was filmed from inside the kitchen over the sink. The birds don't like me outside to film:( But they are so cute! Glad you liked it.

  18. Rose, They are so fun! The grandkids will love the whole process. One piece of advice though, get only the martin gourds-they are much better for growing and curing. That's the big fun-growing them.

  19. Fantastic, well done Tina, excellent post with a lot of great info. That's just the way I like it.

    Have a great weekend/ xoxo Tyra

  20. I love gourds. And I have one in which I have my 'mate' (traditional South American drink). And I love yours because it looks wild and yet polished. You could say it's like a teenager with manners :-).

    Greetings from London.

  21. I thought I'd like to work with gourds, ordered a kit to start, and it sits unopened out on a shelf in the garage. But I do love them. It's beautiful to see the birds enjoying something that originally came from a seed and is now their home.

  22. the fun begins... I can't wait to see how you paint and decorate your gourds this year Tina. That engraving tool Frances mentioned would be clever to use! Leave it to her to know the cool stuff! I have used decoupage glue a LOT in my many craft projects and if it's something for outdoors, I always choose "Aleene's Instant Decoupage Glue, Sealer & Finish." It's water resistant and holds up well. Of course, our climate is much drier than yours so if you use it, you'll have to tell me how it does in a wetter environment. I don't encourage the sparrows to nest around my place but they do anyway! I can see the enjoyment in watching them tho.

  23. How fun. I may have missed if you said if you grew them. We picked out some bird house gourd seeds to try this year.

  24. Lucky you that your gourds have dried! As Lola, still no rattle sound from seeds in my gourds. Still waiting as I want to make birdhouses. Thanks for the bird “hole size” link. I think I will go for wren and chickadee holes. They are fun to watch. The gourd I scraped looks great! The other two large ones that I decided not to scrap will need cleaning. Arg, wish I had scraped them as it was easy and the cleaning sounds a bit more difficult. Maybe I will try the bar cleaner. Oh well, that is what is great about this blog, Live and learn!

    Cameron, We have a small fence around our veggie garden to keep the bunny out. The deer could walk over it but they did not. Also the gourds grew outside the fencing. The deer did not bother the gourds at all. I hang Dial Soap bars around the fencing as a deterrent so that may be the reason. Give gourds a try!

    Love the video of the sparrows checking out their new home! Our bluebirds are scoping out the bird houses. Calling for 60's and even 70's temps the next week so I am sure they will start building the nest inside soon...

    Will be looking for Gail’s gourd…

  25. Sounds like a lot of fun and elbow grease never killed anyone yet so worth it. Love the video.

  26. Hi Tina~

    Those gourds really are elegant looking in their shape, they almost looks like pears.I can't wait to see your Warli painted gourd, it sounds like a fun project. Thanks for another great tutorial!


  27. The Warli painting will look great Tina. My aunt (who is very crafty) took some gourds and painted them to look like Santas. The narrow tops form the perfect cap.

    Enjoyed the video!

  28. You can save the seeds from your dried gourd and use them as little "shingles" for the roof of your gourd house. Look here to see what I mean:

  29. I really loved the natural color of that gourd once you cleaned it with your bleach solution. Great info today, thanks Tina!

  30. Hi Tina - I bought a packet of swan gourd seeds at the old Home Depot this week - inspired by your last gourd post. I'll have to find your gourd posts again when mine are ready to harvest and dry. Wish me luck! - VW

  31. Hi Tina, these are so cute! You have so many neat ideas. A really gorgeous day today --and we have some bulbs starting to pop up in the front yard:0) I'm so excited! Tomorrow Boy 1 receives Confirmation --a big step in the right direction --exciting for all of us. Just think in a few short weeks we'll have all kinds of neat stuff popping up:) I love spring! Have a great weekend!

  32. really cool, i am going to grow gourds this coming year and love to think about what to do with them. some great ideas tina

  33. wow! I never knew what to do with gourds but I love the idea of making nesting places for birds. Thanks, Tina for the ideas, and the photos and especially the video.

  34. I've been a bad blogger this weekend! Shame on me! Well hello guys!

    Tyra, Thanks!

    ACIL, Is there such a thing as a teenager with manners?:)

    Brenda, It is great for the birds and for the gardener to grow them! Have fun with yours.

    Kathleen, I am for sure going to get Aleenes' Decoupage Glue, I so much appreciate the advice from fellow crafters and bloggers. Had I got some advice on the glass mosaic I would've bought the goop like Gail said and have been happier. I may use and engraver too like Frances said. Hmmmmm....

    Catherine, I do grow them each year. They are so rewarding. One year I got zero gourds though due to a drought. This year was a bumper year as I overcompensated. You will enjoy growing your gourds and crafting with them-give them LOTS of room to spread.

    Skeeter, Have you picked up your gourds and cha chaed with them? Shake those seeds loose as your gourds should be dried by now since they were in the house, Lola's too I think. Try it!

    Mom, You are so right-gotta have elbow grease and it keeps me active. Glad you like the video. It was hard from inside but I guess you can see the busy prolific sparrows. They care not for privacy if you know what I mean.

    Karrita, Glad you enjoyed it. Do you grow gourds? They would be fun for crafters.

    JGH, I love the Santa gourds! They are so fun! I might do one too one of these days.

    TC, I do like that effect-good use for the seeds since I don't replant my harvested seeds. Thanks for the info!

    Racquel, Glad you liked it! They are quite natural looking and warm in color.

    VW, I wish you luck! I have not grown the swan gourds so I will surely be interested in seeing your results. I've tried the apple gourds-no luck:( To find the post it is under labels "Gourds". But this blog is getting kind of big-hard to find stuff now a days.

    Anonymous, It was sooooo nice yesterday. I took Bella and went walking. No garden work:( Maybe next week. I am building a new patio and really need to get it done before that dreaded grass mowing season begins (within a month for me). I am so glad your folks have power now. It is pretty bad up north. I had no idea!

    Marmee, You'll have so much fun with the gourds! Can't wait to see yours.

    Catmint, Glad you enjoyed the video. Those sparrows are fun. I do hope it is cooling off down there for you now.

  35. I shook, no rattle. sigh, soon though...

  36. If I saw a moldy old gourd like that, I'd throw it out, thinking it was ruined! Live and learn.

  37. That looks like a perfect gourd!
    Im a big fan of birdhouse gourds and grow them every few years, My birds just love them. I have one that has been out in my gardens for several years now that is very bad shape but it's still their favorite. for some reason it's always the first to have a nest in it, even though I make and hang new ones often. I have many different birdhouses, because I sell them on my website, but I still like to make them from gourds. Growing the gourds is fun and easy too.

  38. Hope you don't tire of my questions. I had planted gourds this summer and had hoped to do some projects with them. Something went terribly wrong and I don't know what. I'm unsure if I picked them too soon or didn't dry them properly. They kinda shriveled up. do you leave them on the vine until they dry? Thanks.

  39. Charlotte, Yes and no, I actually do leave the gourds in the garden until the first freeze takes away all the vines but I do not leave the gourds in the garden to dry-though you can do it this way. What I do is move my gourds inside the garage to dry, though they could dry outside. The gourds must be mature in order to dry well. Even then some might not make it and will rot. It usually takes a normal sized gourd about 4 months to dry so patience is required. Then you have to scrub them with bleach and enjoy!