harvesting/curing gourds in north central florida
I'm growing gourds for the first time. I planted dipper gourd seeds in May or early June. The vines are on a strong arbor and a wire fence. They've been doing beautifully, and I now have a few dozen beautiful big gourds. I also have some babies still showing up. Some of these gourds are definitely as big as they are going to get. They aren't showing any increase in size over a week or more. Many of the leaves on the vine are turning brown and dropping off, but the new growth all looks very healthy.
I'm trying to find out about harvest and curing. Waiting 'til the first frost doesn't seem practical, as it often doesn't freeze here 'til Christmas or later. I also read somewhere to harvest when the stems begin to turn brown. That seems more plausible, but isn't beginning to to happen. Is this something that typically happens after the older leaves begin to turn brown?
I've only found one other person I know whose grown gourds down here, and he used his for birdhouses. He says he cuts them when they are "as big as they're gonna get," and then immediately cuts the hole out and lets the gourd drain. I've never heard of that!
Can anyone advise? And after I harvest, what then? I may want to use some for crafts (painting or carving).
oh, and here is a picture from several weeks ago...