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Crafts
How to Dry Pumpkins and Gourds
Preserve your decorative harvest with these simple tricks.
Written and Photographed by Melinda Graham

Pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn are the calling cards of autumn. These signs of the harvest have been widely used as decorations throughout history. Big orange pumpkins on the porch, brightly colored dried yellow corn hanging on the door and bowls of green gourds on the dining room table are all vibrant and lovely, but what if those colors don’t suit your décor? Here’s an easy way to keep the tradition alive while maintaining your personal style.


Drying Gourds:

1. Rinse off dirt and debris from the gourd, then disinfect the rind with a diluted bleach solution or distilled vinegar. Wipe the surface with a clean, dry cloth.
2. Find a dark, cool, dry and well-ventilated place to dry the gourds (damp rooms can cause the gourds to rot). Place them on a wire drying rack for proper air circulation, making sure the gourds do not touch. If possible, use fans to dry them more efficiently.
3. You can speed up the drying time by piercing the bottom of the gourds with a nail or a small drill bit. Place a paper or plastic sheet below the drying rack to protect the floor from drippings. Rotate the gourds from time to time and inspect them for signs of mold. Discard any gourds that begin to show signs of rot.
4. The gourds have dried completely when you hear seeds rattling inside when you shake them. The entire process can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the type of gourd and the air conditions.


Painting Gourds:

1. Gourds are fragile when dry and should be handled with care.
2. Gently sand the shell of the gourd with steel wool. Clean with a dry cloth or remove dust with a clean, dry paintbrush. Fill any nail holes with a tiny amount of spackle. Allow to dry, then gently sand and wipe clean.
3. For a natural look, paint the exterior with a clear, matte polyurethane paint or spray paint.
4. For a shabby-cottage look, paint the entire surface with a coat of matte, cream acrylic paint or house paint. Let dry then lightly white-wash using a pure white paint. Let dry, then sand the surface for a “distressed” appearance.


Tips to remember:

1. It is important to display gourds in a dry place. If introduced to moisture (like in a bathroom or outdoors) they could rot.
2. Store dried gourds in an air-tight container in a cool, dry, dark space (closets are ideal). Add silica packets to the container to keep moisture at bay.
3. If a gourd rots, discard it immediately before any others are ruined.
4. Clean the gourds gently with a dry cloth when needed.

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