harvesting/curing gourds in north central florida

becca62(9a FL)September 19, 2005

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).

Thanks!

oh, and here is a picture from several weeks ago...

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gourd_friends(z5/6 IL)

I think you're on the right track, just be patient. You should leave the gourds on the vine until the stems are brown and dry. You should also notice that the gourds are becoming lighter in weight and possibly losing their bright green color. Some will begin turning brown or tan in spots.
When you harvest, leave at least 4 inches of stem on the gourd, and don't lift or handle the gourd by the stem.
As for cutting a hole for drainage.....that seems risky to me. (possibly an entry port for insects or bacteria) The water in the gourd is part of the fiber...much like the fiber surrounding the seed in a pumpkin or a squash. The process of evaportion is a part of the curing of the gourd. Again, be patient.
Put your harvested gourds behind the garage, under the deck...somewhere they will have adequate air circulation. Check them every few weeks to check for rotted gourds, etc.
Don't panic if you see mold...that's part of the curing process. It could take up to six months or more, but it will be worth it.

Jan

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 10:17AM
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