Nothing sets the mood for fall better than gourds in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Here’s how to harvest gourds so you can use them for autumn décor:
1. Harvest when the stem dries but before the first frost. Cut gourds from the vine with a few inches of stem attached.
2. Wash and disinfect gourds in a diluted bleach solution (1 teaspoon per 1 gallon of water).
3. Gently dry with a cloth. Place gourds on layers of newspaper in a warm, well-ventilated area—but not in direct sunlight, which fades the color. Be careful not to bruise or scratch tender skin.
4. Turn gourds occasionally and replace damp newspaper with fresh sheets. Curing takes one to six months, depending on the type of gourd. The skin hardens in about a week, but it takes at least a month for the inside to dry.
5. When you shake the gourd and hear seeds rattling, it’s cured and ready for a coat of furniture wax, paint, or varnish.