|The gourd I chose at the gourd show--$1|
Remember all the pretty gourds below, sort of tan. Well, they all looked like this one I bought, once upon a time. Actually, all were green and healthy looking. They then began to look like the gourd above, dried and scummy looking.
they were scrubbed to within an inch of their lives and sold for $5. They don't have holes of any sort in them, yet.
I did not feel I could spare $5. As I rummaged in the wire corral with $1 gourds, I muttered that I wonder why these were so cheap. I meant were they mis-shapen. One woman customer said the ones like I bought were defective. She said she thought they were rotten and I should not buy one. She and her friend were going through the bins above.
She was shocked when I told her all gourds started like the cheap ones, that she was just paying for someone to wash them for her.
All the still-green gourds should have been left in the field to dry out. Water won't hurt them. Neither will a little dirt. By the way, a gourd is dry if it rattles. Those are seeds. Do not bring gourds inside to dry. They stink indoors in large quantities.
In order to wash a gourd, get a five gallon bucket if you only have one gourd. If you have more than one gourd, I would use a large metal washtub like mine, about three feet across. Fill either container about two-thirds full of water. Put 1/4 cup of Clorox in the bucket and 1 cup in a large tub. Put the gourds in the water and sort of roll them around to wet them. They float. You can drape a wet towel over them. I did not, but it helps to soften the scum on the gourds.
Oh, I forgot the most important part--wear clothes that won't be ruined by Clorox-y wet gourds popping up and getting Clorox water all over. Same for shoes. Remove all jewelry. This is the messiest job I have ever done. Use a scrubby, the sponge and green nylon kind to wash all the grossness from the gourd. That will get all over you, too. Don't use steel wool to scrub.
As you wash them very clean, lay them out of brick or board to dry. On a hot day, this happens quickly so you can move to the next step. However, you can crack the gourd if it gets too hot when wet, so under the shade of a tree will work.
Get your drill and hole saw. First, never hold onto the stem. Never. The beauty of a gourd is the stem.
*Drill four holes in the bottom of the gourd for drain holes, less than 1/4" holes.
*Be careful and drill two holes opposite each other about two inches from the pointy top of the gourd. You can put wire or leather through this to hang your gourd. For outdoors, I use a piece of a copper-colored. wire clothes hanger. Leather will break and your gourd might break as it falls.
*Use the hole saw to drill a hole in the side of the gourd. Make sure you put the hole directly on the side of the gourd, not up too high where water easily runs in or too low. For this step, it helps if you have the hanging wire in place and hang the gourd, handing it off the end of your finger will work. This way, it's easier to get the hole placement correct.
**Don't use metal to clean the outside or you will have scratches. Some sites will recommend stainless steel. Don't. Oh, said that...worth repeating.
**Use a cheap paper mask so you won't breathe in mold or dust. I never did use one.
I put the gourd between my legs as I sat on the porch steps. Then, I used the drill bit and then the hole saw between my legs. I know, pretty dangerous. Two pieces of wood nailed to a backing where the wood was V-shaped to hold the gourd still might be less dangerous.
When you drill this hole with a hole saw, no one told me what happened directly afterwards. First, you have to get the hole saw out of the hole. Then, you notice 10,000+ little mites or something crawling out. Eeeek!
You can either give each hole a shot of any kind of bug spray or throw the gourd back in the Clorox water, or just be brave. I put it back in the Clorox water.
Save the seeds to plant next year. I suppose you might get the same kind of gourds. No promises.
Now comes the hard part. Using a bent piece of wire or a brush or something, you have to clean the mass of debris from the gourd. I hate this part. They make a ball to place on a drill just to clean gourds.
It took me about two days to do all this work to 20 gourds, but I am not a professional. AND, I paid 50 cents for each gourd. After I finished, I gave them all one coat of white paint. These were used for a children's craft camp, ages 5 to 11. Then, each child painted a gourd with paint that comes in the little bottles, forgot what kind--craft paint. That craft was a success.
Really fabulous decorative arts can be made from gourds--baskets, drums, bowls, canteens... Shoe dye is used mostly for coloring the gourds. Now, there is a dye made just for gourds.
Edit: What part of the country gourds grow is found at the gourd reserve.
What have you made of gourds? Do you like these sorts of items in your yard as much as I do?