Mold is Beautiful: Am I Out of My Gourd?

Look at the interesting mold growing on that birdhouse gourd. While mold is usually not something that makes people happy when they see it, in this case, it's a good thing.

It's a natural process as the gourds dry, so they can be used decoratively - and once they are dry, they can last for decades.

What an interesting variety of patterns and colors. Some of the mold colonies look like leaves and one spot has developed a purple hue.

The mold will leave their patterns on the shell, even after I scrub them off in the spring when the gourds are done drying.

While I am keeping my gourds in the garage for the drying process, they will dry outside, too, and can be a decoration while that process is underway.

How do you know when the gourd is completely dry? Give it a shake. If the seeds are rattling around inside, it's ready. It can take several months or up to a year.

The mold can be scrubbed off with a mild bleach solution. Some people use a mild bleach solution after the gourds are harvested to try to prevent mold. Or just leave it. The mold will likely no longer be alive and may flake off on its own.

A dried gourd is just like wood. Whatever you can do to wood, you can do to gourd. Paint, carve, varnish, burn. Drill a hole in the front and clean out the seeds and you have a birdhouse. Anything goes.

Project idea for Halloween - seen at the Hyde Park Street Fair a couple of years ago.

Gourds are a fun addition to the home garden. While they are related to pumpkins and squash, the flowers on most hard-shelled gourd plants bloom at night. That means bees are not the pollinators. Moths and nighttime insects do that job.


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