Ever wondered how to preserve gourds? Displaying colorful gourds that mimic the hues of New England’s fall foliage is a festive way to celebrate the season. By preserving gourds, you can use them in your autumn decor for years to come. Miniature gourds look great displayed clustered in a basket or lined up on a coffee table or mantel. I also like to group a variety of tiny gourds with bittersweet and medium-sized warty and ghost pumpkins on the dining room table as a centerpiece arrangement that will last throughout the fall.
Read on for more ideas on how to display autumn gourds, plus learn how to preserve gourds for future seasonal displays.
Instructions on How to Preserve Gourds
Preserving gourds takes a little patience, but is well worth the wait. To start, harvest miniature gourds when they are mature and not any sooner. If gourds are harvested before they are done growing they are more susceptible to rot. A good indicator that a gourd is ready to pick is when the stem is dry and turning brown.
Cut the gourds from the vine leaving at least 2” of stem. The stem will aid in wicking the moisture from the gourds.
Gently wash the gourds in a mild soapy dish detergent and rinse thoroughly.
Wipe the gourds dry and spray lightly with a household disinfectant or mist with rubbing alcohol.
Space the prepared gourds on a few layers of newspaper in a dark, warm, dry area (such as an attic) with good ventilation. Replace the damp newspaper every few days, turning the gourds when you do. Heat accelerates drying and darkness will preserve the gourd’s color. You can also place the gourds under a fan to speed up the drying process. Repeat these steps for the next several weeks until the gourds are noticeably lighter and you are able to hear the seeds rattling inside them when you pick them up.
When the gourds are completely dry, use a paste wax or clear shellac to seal and protect.
Ideas to Display Gourds
Create a gourd birdhouse. Follow the drying instructions above. Puncture a hole in the dry gourd and use a pumpkin cutter to saw out an opening about the size of a golf ball. Twist wire around the stem to hang. A wooden dowel may also be inserted under the hole as a perch. Simply puncture a hole directly underneath the cut opening and work the dowel in gently.
Display flowers in gourds and pumpkins. Mums and Kale look great when placed inside a pumpkin that has been hollowed out to fit the dimensions of the plant pot.
Create Thanksgiving place settings. Follow the gourd drying and preserving directions above. Slice a small slit in the top of the gourd and slide a handmade cardboard place setting in the opening.
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This post was first published in 2012 and has been updated.