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Gourds Turning White

Question:

This is my first time growing gourds some of them are starting to turn white. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

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Karon from Paxton, IL

Answer:

Karon,

As long as they don't show signs of rotting or damage, I wouldn't worry about it. Several varieties of gourds turn white when they mature, and others go through several color changes as they develop, including white, before they set their final color. When the stems start to dry and turn brown, you'll know your gourds are ready for harvesting. Most varieties will tolerate a light frost providing that they have matured sufficiently enough to form a semi-hardened shell. Less mature gourds are likely to suffer damage from frost and may need to be discarded. Be careful not to bruise your gourds during harvest. Even slight bruising can put them at a greater risk for decay during the drying process.

To harvest, cut the gourds from the vines with a sharp knife or shears, leaving each gourd with a few inches of stem. Before curing, wash the gourds in warm, soapy water to remove any dirt and wipe them down with a soft cloth moistened with bleach water or rubbing alcohol. This will help to destroy any organisms that promote rotting. Dry each gourd with a soft cloth and place them in a single layer on newspaper or paper bags so that they don't touch each other while curing. The curing process takes several weeks and should be done in a warm, dry location with plenty of air circulation (e.g. shed, barn or garage). Inspect the gourds frequently throughout the curing process. Turn them occasionally and discard any that show signs of decay. The gourds are dry when the seeds rattle inside.

Smaller gourds can be used as they are or preserved with wax, shellac, or paint. Large gourds can be polished smooth with steel wool or fine grade sandpaper and then painted, stained, or waxed for preservation.

Ellen

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