The Best Gourds for Birdhouses:
The most common types of gourds used for making birdhouses are bottle gourds. In catalogs and garden centers the seeds are often labeled and sold as "Mexican bottle gourds", or "birdhouse" gourds. Other gourds make good birdhouses, too, including: Dipper gourds, Maranka gourds, Penguin gourds, and Kettle gourds. Ideally, the variety you choose should have a bulbous base that is at least 8 to 10 inches in diameter and a neck or stem long enough to attach a wire for hanging.
If you have the room (vines can reach 100 feet in a single season), birdhouse gourds are pretty simple to grow. All they really need is a lot of sun, a lot of water, and a good long stretch (150-180 days) of warm weather. If you live in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season, start seeds early indoors. It's wise to place your seed order in the fall for the following season as supplies of these popular seeds can run short once spring rolls around.
Here is some general information on their growing requirements:
If you don't have the time or room to grow gourds, you can always buy them and do the curing and finishing yourself. Look for them in the fall at nurseries, garden centers, farmer's markets, and crafts stores - the same places you find decorative gourds and pumpkins for sale.
The Curing Process: To cure your gourds, cut them from the vine once they fully mature (turn from green to tan). Store them in a warm location with good air circulation and leave them to dry (up to several months). Don't worry if during the process you see some shriveling and a few small spots appear. This is perfectly normal. When the gourd is completely dry the seeds inside will rattle when you shake it. Now you can clean the outer surface with a wire brush or sandpaper. After cleaning the outer surface, soak the gourd for 10-15 minutes in a bleach solution (1 part bleach, 10 parts water) to help further protect it from rot and mold. Remove it from the solution and allow it to completely dry before working it into a birdhouse.
By Ellen Brown
Some time ago, someone posted pictures of bird houses made from gourds. I would like instructions. For example, do I cut the hole and clean out the insides, or do I just hang them and let the birds do it all? Also, I would like creative ways to suspend them.
By catastrofy from Winnipeg, Canada
Thank you, Karyn01, best directions ever! Can't wait for fall so I can get started on my "winter bird house project".