Last year, here in Cornell Garden-Based Learning, we grew a plethora of gourds for harvest for gourd craft.
Frankly, we can’t get enough of them — they are beautiful, interesting to work with, there are diverse varieties, and you can get fantastic results, such as the bowls you can see in this Hort 2010: Art of Horticulture class pic.
So you can understand how at first, we were alarmed when we heard from the farm manager that he was ready to plow ours under, and then stopped him when we realized his thinking: many people don’t realize that the unslightly appearance of the gourds as they slowly dry down is a natural process. Many people have told us — “Oh gourds for art, tried to grow those, but they rotted.” Breaks our hearts, to think of those beauties hitting the compost pile.
Our observations are that the darker and nastier the mold, the more interesting the patterns will be on the gourds later.
If you’re getting into the garden, and finding some rotty looking gourds from last year, hold off, set them aside, and watch to see what happens. You may find that your patience will reward you!
What to do when you have some interesting gourds that have fully dried down? Check out Dig Art! Cultivating Creativity in the Garden. You’ll find some great instructions for making gourd craft of your own.