Gourds are known to be versatile plants in the sense that they have a lot of uses apart from being food. Dating back to the early times, people discovered their functions as implements in houses and in farms and through time they gradually evolved as decorations and ornaments.
Making ornaments out of gourds is a fun activity. However it entails quite a work because you have to make sure the fruits have been properly dried, which takes a long process.
If you want to dry or cure ornamental gourds, categorize first the fruits available for use. There are actually two types, based on the hardness and softness of the skin. Gourds with soft skin called cucurbita usually come in orange, gold and green colors and in strange shapes. On the other hand, gourds with hard skin called lagenaria are initially green in color and later become brown as they age.
Of the two types of gourds, the latter (lagenaria) is the most ideal to use as decorations because they can endure the tedious process of drying while still preserving their natural color. Their shells also amazingly remain intact even after undergoing several stages of drying and curing.
When curing or drying ornamental gourds, take note of the following steps:
- Pick the mature fruits because they have harder shells and are more durable.
- Use only the healthy fruits. Decayed or infested gourds will break easily.
- Soap and scrub the skin then dry completely by wiping with cloth.
- Let stand in an airy place for about seven days, but be careful not to place them near the window where the sunlight hits directly, lest the sun's heat might cause damage to their shells.
- Next, lay the gourds in one pile making sure they are at safe distance from each other to ensure enough ventilation. Hanging them is also a good option because you can be sure of uniform airing without the hassle of turning the fruits every now and then.
- As days pass, start the process of elimination. Get rid of fruits that are starting to rot.
- Regularly turn the fruits to make sure they dry well on all sides.
It normally takes many weeks for the gourds to dry and harden completely. It depends on the quality of the fruits, whether mature or otherwise. The best clue that they are ready is by lightly tapping the shells. If they are hard and you hear a hollow sound inside, that means they are good. You can also shake the fruits to listen if the seeds will give a rattling sound, an indication that they are, indeed, completely dried up.
When you are convinced that your gourds are absolutely dry and hard, it's time now for fun. Get your carving tools and start sculpting. You may want to take out the seeds first and polish the interior as well as the exterior parts. You may also paint and decorate them whichever way you want.