By Barbara Acker, Mountain View Gourds
When people think of autumn they think of the bright colors, the cooler days and nights and the end of summer. For gardeners, it's the end of the season when the frost will kill the plants they have lovingly cared for all summer.
But for the gourd grower, it's a beginning. Once the gourd plant is killed by frost the gourds begin their drying process. As I cut mine from the vine I love to feel their weight, their cool smooth surface and wonder what will become of each one. A birdhouse? A bowl? Perhaps this one with the crack might be used for pieces of jewelry? And as I clear the vines I find lots of hidden gourds like little surprises.
Those that aren't mature enough will be sent to the brush pile, but the mature ones will be lined up on wire shelving out in the garden to dry. On the outside, their skin will soften and turn moldy, but inside the shell is drying and becoming like wood. Some may think that they look awful and rotted, but when that moldy skin is scrubbed off the gourd shows its true beauty. Each one is unique. Some will end up with an almost perfect tan shell with few blemishes. Others will be stained from the mold and have a mottled surface which can often be used to guide a project on that gourd.
Once the gourds are dried and cleaned I store them in boxes. Some I know right away what I will make of them. Others may sit for years until inspiration hits and I know exactly which gourd will be perfect for that particular project.