Follow these tips to grow your own gourds and dry them.

Growing your own gourds? Follow these tips:

- Plant gourds where they will receive a full day’s sun.

- Gourd vines are long. Some can reach several hundred feet. Train vines onto fences or trellises to save space. For gourds grown on the ground, rotate gourds to expose all sides to the sun.

- Gourds are warm-season crops so the seeds will not germinate if it’s too cold and can rot if it’s too wet. Plant seeds when danger of frost has passed. To get a head-start, start seeds indoors and transplant outdoors before seedlings grow a second set of true leaves.

- Don’t over-fertilize with nitrogen or you will have more vine and fewer gourds.

- During the early and middle part of the growing season, gourds need one inch of water per week. If watering, don’t water in late evening.

- Harvest gourds when fully mature but before frost to reduce the chance of spoiling in storage. If the stem turns brown and dries, it’s ripe. To harvest, cut the stem with a knife or sharp shears.

- Save seeds from ripe fruit and dry for next year’s planting. Remember that if pumpkins, or other types of gourds are grown nearby, insects will probably cross-pollinate the crop and the seeds may grow a different type of squash.

Source: Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service

Tips to dry gourds:

- After harvest, remove the soil and soil bacteria by wiping with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. For extra-dirty gourds, wash in warm, soapy water and rinse in clean water with a household disinfectant. Dry with a soft cloth.

- To dry the surface, spread gourds on layers of newspaper in a warm dry place, such as a porch, garage or shed. Don’t allow them to touch so air will circulate. Turn gourds daily and change newspaper when damp. Throw away gourds that develop soft spots.

- To dry, wipe gourds with a cloth soaked in household disinfectant, spread onto newspaper and place ina warm, dry, dark area, like an attic or under a bed. Don’t store in damp basements, tight containers, which can encourage rot and mold.

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Gourds at Stoltzfus Gourd & Pumpkin Farm on Monday, October 14, 2019.

- Drying will take several months.

- Once dry, clean and polish gourds by rubbing with steel wool or fine-grade sandpaper. Adding a protective coating will help gourds last a few months longer. Wax with paste wax, apply shellac or spray with varnish or paint.

Source: Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service