I love working with these gourds. It is getting very close to the time to pick them for this year. You need to have a section of garden that they can grow wild in and no one will care. They do have a tendency to take over the plants around them. We got our first freeze and it has taken the leaves.
|Bumper Crop of Birdhouse Gourds|
But the vines are still green so it is still a bit too early to pick them. A freeze won’t hurt them. In fact, once they are picked I winter them over in my car port where they can dry out and I won’t have to see the moldy part of the process.
Yes, they WILL mold. That is okay. Do NOT throw them away. Make sure they are in a place that air can get through them and the mold won’t ruin anything. I had a girlfriend that the first year we had them she placed them on her spare bed in the basement. OH, WRONG CHOICE! But we didn’t know any better. Five of us had split over a hundred gourds and I think we ended up with less than twenty. That was during the early days of the Internet. Someone finally found an article that warned about the molding process.
Step 1: Plant a hill or two of seeds.
Step 2: Harvest after the vines are dry.
Step 3: Find a place to let them dry where they can get airflow and the mold won’t ruin anything
Step 4: Wash the mold off.
Step 5: Decorate
I have to admit washing the mold off is the part that I don’t like. Therefore I procrastinate doing that. But it must be done or you can’t do the fun part of decorating them. The quick and easy decoration is to take brown shoe polish, go over the entire gourd and buff it off. I usually wait a full day before varnishing with a gloss spray. This makes it look like a shiny leather finish. I have also seen people use craft paints and paint a snowman, a Santa Clause, or any number of beautiful designs on it. Kids would have fun painting their own personal designs on it. But if you plan to hang it in the tree for an actual birdhouse, the more natural look does best. Use a quarter to size the whole that you are going to make. Many birds like to have a perch so you may want to add a perch under the hole.
Are you freaking out about cutting into the gourd? There are usually a few that get a hole knocked into them during the drying and cleaning process. Use those gourds to practice. I have even made dry flower vases out of them. Have fun!