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Connecticut Garden Journal: Dry your gourds for crafts that last years

Finished decorated gourds are displayed.
Houston Chronicle
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Hard shelled gourds are utilitarian and can be displayed for their beauty.

As you walk around garden centers this time of year, you can't help noticing all the gourds on display. There are two different types of gourds. The small, warty, soft shelled gourds are mostly used for decorations and will start rotting after a few months, especially if they're touched by frost. The larger, hard shelled gourds are the cool ones. These can be dried to form a hard shell that can last for years. I grew a bottle gourd for my step son when he was younger and we kept that gourd for a good 10 years until we finally composted it.

When exploring hard shelled gourds to use as decorations or crafts, look for different shapes. Many hard shelled gourds are named after their usage such as dipper gourd, spoon gourd, bottle gourd, basket gourd, sponge gourd, and birdhouse gourd. Some are even used to make musical instruments.

Once you find a hard shelled gourd that's mature, then wash off the gourd skin with soapy water. To dry it, place the gourd in a warm, well-ventilated, dark room. The skin should dry within 1 week, while the insides of the gourd may take several months. Check them daily for rotting. When you can shake the gourd and you hear the seeds rattle around inside, it’s dry. Then carve out holes and make a birdhouse, cut the gourd to make a spoon, basket or dipper or even peel the skin, wash out the insides, dry it and make a luffa sponge. These hard shelled gourds are utilitarian and can just be displayed for their beauty.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.