Drying gourds seems to be encoded in human DNA: our species has been drying gourds for thousands of years to make tools, containers, utensils, instruments and all kinds of artistic and craft objects. Acquire this archaic pastime and try the different methods below.
Method 1 of 5: Drying gourds in the field
Step 1. Leave the gourds on the vines where they grew
Mature gourds withstand frost and can even withstand some freeze-thaw cycles. When plants turn brown and fall off, the gourds dry up and fall off.
If the gourds have matured towards the end of the ripening season but have not had time to dry, you can leave them on the vine for the winter. When the snow melts and reveals them in spring, they will dry out again from where they were in the fall. However, there is a risk of rot
Step 2. Take a gourd and shake it
Dried gourds are light and hollow. Hear the sound of seeds hitting the walls. However, sometimes the seeds stick to the inside of the gourd before drying and do not shake.
Step 3. Harvest the gourds when they are completely dry
If they are still attached to the plant, you can either cut the tendril together or leave part of the stem intact - this is purely ornamental if you dried the gourd on the vine.
Step 4. Compost the gourds that have started to rot before drying
No matter how you decide to dry them, a small portion will always rot, so be prepared.
Method 2 of 5: Drying gourds off the vine
Step 1. Cut the ripe gourds from the vines when the leaves and stem start to brown
Use a sharp pruner to make an even cut. Leave 2, 5 to 5 cm from the stem in the gourds. Leaving this piece of stem is important because it helps in the evaporation of water. The gourd shell is hard and waterproof, so the porosity of the stem is necessary to let moisture out of the gourd.
If you have gourds that are considered green (fleshy and brightly green) and are concerned that the first frost will kill them, cut them off the vine and use them as temporary decorations. You will likely not be able to dry them. You can also leave them on the vine - maybe they'll get callused from the cold instead of dying
Step 2. Wash the gourds in warm, soapy water
This removes bacteria and helps prevent rotting.
You can also soak them for 20 minutes in a solution of one part homemade bleach and nine parts warm water
Step 3. Wash them with clean cold water after washing or soaking
This will discard any soap or bleach residue.
Step 4. Choose an outdoor location where the gourds can dry
They can dry in a cold place, but keep in mind that constant freezing and thawing can damage the seeds inside the gourds and therefore they cannot be replanted.
You can also dry gourds in a garage, stable or indoors, but they will have the best air circulation if they dry outdoors. It can take several months for them to dry completely. Keep in mind that large amounts of drying gourd give off an unpleasant odor. If you dry them indoors, it will take a while to get rid of the smell
Step 5. Position the gourds in a single row on an elevated surface
This surface should be a structure like a wooden platform. Raising the platform increases air circulation - it will be able to circulate from all directions.
Step 6. Keep in mind that drying time may vary
Depending on the size of the gourds, it can take six weeks to a year to completely dry.
Step 7. Remove all mold
Use the blunt side of a knife to scrape away the mold. You can also (…).
Step 8. Rotate the gourds
Turn the gourds once every week or two to expose the underside to the air.
Method 3 of 5: Hanging the gourds to dry
Step 1. Hang the gourds by the stem
If you only have a few gourds to dry, tie string to the stem and hang them from tree branches.
You can also hang gourds in well-ventilated buildings or on fences. Hanging them on fences also gives your yard a festive look
Step 2. Use a nail to make 2-3 small holes in the bottom of the gourd
This is an optional way to hang the gourds to dry. Thread string through the holes and hang them upside down. Be aware that piercing the gourds can lead to mold growth inside them.
Step 3. Place a baking sheet or newspaper under the gourds to catch the fluid that runs off
If you don't mind the holes, it can speed up the process.
Method 4 of 5: Green Landscaping with Gourds
Step 1. Know the advantages and disadvantages of green landscaping
Green Landscaping is a controversial process. Some farmers recommend it to speed up the drying process and lessen the chance of staining with black mold. Others say that decorating the shell or doing anything to the surface of the gourd before it is completely dry increases the risk of damage and infection.
Step 2. Let the gourds dry after harvesting
Dry them for just a few weeks (they will be slightly dry.)
Step 3. Use the blunt side of a knife to gently scrape the outer layer of bark
Doing so will reveal a lighter layer underneath.
Step 4. Finish drying the scraped gourds
Place them in a well-ventilated, lighted area. Turn them every two or three if they are on a flat surface.
Be aware that if the gourds dry too quickly, they will likely wrinkle
Method 5 of 5: Cleaning the gourds after drying
Step 1. Clean the gourd after drying
Soak the gourds in a bucket of warm, soapy water. This helps to loosen bark and mold that may develop on the outer surface.
You can add bleach to the water to give the gourds an even color, but this is not necessary
Step 2. Use the blunt side of a kitchen knife to scrape the outer surface
During the drying process, the outer surface may become wrinkled or stained. In general it is better to shave.
You can also use a steel sponge or sandpaper to remove the outer layer of husk. However, using these objects will result in scratches. Only use sandpaper or steel bushing if you plan to paint the gourd
Step 3. Fill any holes or cracks with wood putty
While this is not necessary, it will leave the surface of the gourd with an even texture. You can also sand the inside of the gourd to make it smooth.
- While it's okay to expose mature or drying gourds to frost and sub-zero temperatures, if you're growing gourds to harvest the seeds and plant them, don't let them freeze. Once frozen, the seeds are no longer viable.
- Often the outer layer of gourds creates mold as they dry. This is normal and does not need cleaning. As the gourd continues to dry, the mold also dries and falls off. However, mold darkens or discolors the surface. Clean or scrape mold if you prefer an evenly colored gourd.