Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to dry bottle gourds

Though my father typically plants a couple of bottle gourd vines every season, this year, he went a little crazy.  Click here to see the gorgeous vines in his garden and learn about why his friends will be happy to receive these auspicious little gourds.

To dry the gourds for ornamental purposes, he harvested them at maturity.  These are miniature gourds, so they are tiny, but mature.  In the photos above, you see them as they look freshly cut from the vine.  He is stringing them to dry for seeds.  These are just the seedstock, not the ones he will dry for gifting.  


In the photo below, he has taken mature gourds and scraped off the outer peel with a sharp knife.  This is not a necessary step, but makes for a cleaner appearance.  Some of the gourds on the vine looked pretty jacked up with spots and other imperfections, but scraping the peel leaves them all pretty as can be as you can see in the photo below.  After scraping off the peel, he will sun dry them outdoors (bringing them in if it rains!!!).  It takes about a month to fully dry out.  My father actually used a food dehydrator during rainy days and at night to speed the process.  The few gourds in the batch that were not at full maturity when harvested shriveled a bit, and were left a little wrinkly.  Try to wait until the gourds are at full maturity before harvesting.  

The little gourds were dried on a woven tray as you see below.  The lighter ones were scraped first before drying.  The darker ones were not scraped and left to dry as is.   As you can see, they are just as lovely.  For a smoother appearance, the unscraped gourds can be lightly sanded for a smoother and more finished appearance, but as far as protecting the gourd, this is also an unnecessary step.  The ones my father really liked, he also painted with a light lacquer for a little shine.  If you try growing these little gourds, I'd love to know how it goes!


  1. OMG Wendy, they are already mature! How so beautiful. I don't see anything like that here, maybe they only grow well in cold climates. I was able to see them, the lacquered decors, in China. I know they are symbolic of good health, the wulu! But they are not as cute as those!

  2. The trellis heavy with vine and gourds hanging down is a sight to behold. The minature gourds are cute. I have a few dried gourds which I bought while visiting China a decade back. They have Chinese art and calligraphy of auspicious words etched on with a blow torch.

    Your father is simply amazing; so industrious and equally productive. I've great admiration for him.

  3. What a process! I never knew about the scraping step but it really makes them look stunning. Two falls ago my dad had tossed some lacquered gourds in to his garden that were given to my mother as a little gift in a flower arrangement. We were tickled to see them sprout up the following season. Unfortunately ours did not come up this year. Thinking the weather played a big part in this. Your dad sounds so lucky you are!

  4. Amazing to read about this. Your father's garden always sounds so amazing.

  5. My attempts to grow gourds have all met with failure. Guess it's time to try again.

  6. Awww...they're soo cute!! Congrats to your dad for his beautiful gourd harvests!!

  7. I love these. Kudos to your father for his amazingly green thumb. And good luck to you on your presentation. I'm sure you will be well received. I hope you have a great time.

  8. These mini gourds look really cute and fascinating. And they look like big longans on that tray in that small pic hehe...

  9. What a fun project! I didn't know there were miniature bottle gourds although I've grown the full size type a couple of times. I grew luffas and spinner gourds this summer for the first time. Your grandfather's trellis reminds me of the space I have for growing gourds:

    Thanks for writing this post! I love to hear about gourds and gardening.


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