Know Your Gourds
You may know them simply as fall ornamental décor because they can grow in incredible shapes, but the value and diversity of gourds may be much larger than realize. They among the oldest cultivated plants in the world. They were also early water bottles and have been used for utensils, storage containers, and dippers for centuries. Read on to discover more about gourds and their many uses!
TYPES OF GOURDS
Hard-shells are the gourds of history, used as containers, tools, and musical instruments from the dawn of history through today. Their hard, durable shells give them many uses, including drinking vessels. Before carving or working with hard-shell gourds, you must dry them through a process that can take up to 6 months.
Soft-shells have thinner shells and are smaller and more colorful, which is ideal for decorating . These decorative, thin-skinned gourds make great containers or birdhouses and fall center pieces. These are the kinds you can find readily in autumn in supermarkets, at roadside stands, and at farmer's markets. The Cucurbita family as a whole is well known since it includes pumpkins, as well as many kinds of squash.
COMMON GOURD VARIETIES
Apple. These gourds are shaped like a giant, delicious apple and are great to use as a centerpiece, display in decorations, use in crafting projects, or simply paint red.
Martin Gourds. These gourds are excellent for making into birdhouses. The bottoms are mostly flat but can also be round.
Bottle Gourds. These gourds have a mostly flat bottom but are sometimes rounded. They can be used to make musical instruments, birdhouses, bowls, and more.
Swan/Goose Gourds. These gourds have a large round base with a thick curved neck. The bulbous tip gives this gourd a swanlike effect. They are great for painting, wood burning, and various other crafts.
Dipper Gourds. These gourds are mostly flat on the bottom but can also be rounded. They are great for crafts, rattles, and small birdhouses. The handles on these gourds can by curly, straight, or uniquely shaped.
Extra Long Handled Dipper Gourds. These unique gourds have long curved handles that can grow up to 2-3 feet long with a bulbous end. These are great for painting, wood burning, and other crafts.
Warty Gourds. Covered in bumps, these crafting gourds’ intriguing look are great for making bowls, birdhouses, and other crafts.
Canteen Gourds. Due to their mostly flat bottom and rounded shape, these gourds are perfect for making canteens, jewelry boxes, and bowls.
Bushel Gourds. These gourds are usually larger than other gourds. Baskets, drums, and bowls can easily be made from them.
Snake Gourds. These gourds range in size from small to large and can grow up to 3 feet long and 8 inches around. They can be slender, elongated, straight, or curved. Snake gourds have been known to be made into the long wind instrument called a didgeridoo.
Luffa Gourds. These gourds have a fibrous flesh that can be used for a natural bath sponge that cleans and exfoliates skin.
Daisy. This beautiful variety produces small, attractive gourds with different shades of green, orange, yellow, and white, but the colors fade as the gourds harden. When their colors are vibrant, these gourds make great fall decorations. After they are dry, you can use them for different crafts and decorating.
Tennessee Spinning. This ornamental, green-striped variety looks like a misshapen watermelon and is perfect for crafts or jewelry. Sometimes called a Tennessee Dancing Gourd, this gourd originates from Hickman County, Tennessee.
Turk’s Turban. This heirloom variety is certainly unique. Made up of two halves, the bottom half is usually a solid color, whereas the “hat” or “turban” is beige with streaks of reddish orange and green. Doing double-duty as an ornamental and an edible, this variety can be used in all your favorite squash recipes.