Harvesting Bottle Gourds

This year, we used a little extra square footage of ground gained by eliminating the cranberries to plant some bottle gourds. These are purely decorative, and I didn’t have much of a plan in mind — other than to see if it could be done.

This photo was taken near the end of September or the beginning of October — quickly, as the bottle gourd bed was right next to the yellow jacket nest. Though we had a bunch of baby gourds back in July, several shriveled and died back during the droughty summer. 

We ended up harvesting two. 

Though we have been threatened with a frost or freeze several times this fall, it hasn’t yet come to pass. Still, I brought in the last pumpkins, squash, and gourds about a week ago, and they are sitting in the dining room to cure by the heat register:

This plan ordinarily works quite well, but our furnace is broken! We’ve been muddling through with long underwear, blankets, and a space heater until the repairman can make it here on Tuesday — and we’re lucky that it hasn’t gotten much colder in the meantime. 

The bottle gourds will take a long time to dry out, and in the meantime I followed the advice I read about washing them and wiping them down with a little rubbing alcohol to discourage mold. I’ve also been rotating them onto their sides to encourage even drying.

Most advice that I read recommended harvesting them before the frost, which is what I did. The outlier suggested that gourds have cured on the vine, through all kids of weather, for hundreds of years, and you should let the vines completely die back. I’m inclined to believe that, but I already brought them in (and the vines are pretty dead now, though they still had some life in them when I cut the gourds a week ago). 

So we’ll see how this goes. It’s likely to be well into the winter before these are thoroughly dried and ready to turn into something useful.


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