how to dry gourds to make bird houses

Has anyone heard or read of drying birdhouse gourds in the oven? I have 9 of them in various sizes and was hoping to give them as Christmas gifts. Im going to try one in the oven. Ill open it up, seed it as much as I can, and put it in a warm oven for a couple of hours. Maybe it will speed up the drying process. Sponsored

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How to Dry Birdhouse Gourds

Gourds can either be dried indoors or outdoors. The primary factors to take into account when deciding whether to dry indoors or outside are:

  • the gourd’s final appearance: gourds that are dried indoors have much more intricate patterns, while those that are dried outdoors are primarily just yellow.
  • The drying space: in a garden, they should be left on the vine; in an indoor setting, they should be spread out in a well-ventilated space away from habitations.
  • Animals that could ruin your gourds include squirrels, deer, and other creatures that could eat gourds left outside over the winter.

We’ve discovered that outside drying increases the likelihood of rotted gourds. Gourds that are not fully matured have a higher likelihood of rotting when dried outdoors compared to indoors; however, they are generally of lower quality. Due to the differences between indoor and outdoor drying, we prefer to have a combination of the two.

Gourds are very simple to dry outside; just leave them on the vine in the garden. There is absolutely no need for you to fuss with them or turn them. The skin will get spotted, brown, and/or black and peel. This is all normal. Allow them to sit and periodically check them to see if any are finished.

When the gourds are hard, light, and the seeds are loose (you might have to whack the gourd on your hand to loosen them), you can tell they are dry. This will take from 3 to 6 months.

I make an effort to gather the gourds as soon as I can in my yard because there are a lot of squirrels there. The squirrels seem to start nibbling on the gourds as soon as the weather warms up.

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

How To Grow Birdhouse Gourds

Birdhouse gourds, like pumpkins and squash, belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. They have similar growing requirements and habits as these close cousins, but they seem less prone to pests and diseases than other plants in the same family. They are really quite easy to grow.

Gourd vines can be planted from seeds or as transplants. I always plant my seeds straight in the ground following the last frost because I live in Southern Ontario (zone 4). I’ve successfully waited until June to make sure frost won’t harm my seedlings. Here, there is typically a 5-month window without frost, which seems to be ideal for the gourds to grow.

If your area has a shorter growing season, you might need to use row covers, cold frames, or cloches to get a head start on the season, or you might need to start transplants indoors a few weeks before the last frost.

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

Because the gourd vines are so long, they need a lot of room. My parents’ farm is where I grow the majority of my gourds because they can sprawl around freely there, but I’ve also had success growing them in my tiny backyard under a strong trellis.

We plant the seeds in rows at the farm, where I have a lot of open space to work with, about 6 inches (15 cm) apart, and then let the vines go where they please. Although early weeding is required, as the plants grow, the garden becomes a thick carpet of green, making weed management simple. The vines spread out from their planting location by at least ten feet. We’ve only needed to water the gourds a couple of times a year during the hottest parts of midsummer.

I raised three gourd vines at my house on a robust metal trellis, making sure to properly train them so they didn’t go anywhere I didn’t want them to. In small areas, the vines must be kept under control because they can grow quite a bit. As long as you keep up with it, they can be trimmed as needed as they grow, making the process fairly simple.

We have found birdhouse gourds to be very easy to care for. Ours have never experienced any serious pest or disease. After years of growing gourds, the only pest that we noticed were cucumber beetles but they never did enough damage to worry about. I had mildew on my vines, as I seem to get on any plant from the Cucurbitaceae family in my urban yard, but it did not affect my gourds. I still got to harvest large healthy gourds even though the vine looked very sad by the end of the season. Of course, there are methods (even organic ones) to deal with mildew but for me, I found it unnecessary.

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

how to dry gourds to make bird houses

How To Clean Dried Gourds

It’s time to clean the gourds after they have completely dried. It’s important to wear a mask for this part, and it’s best done outside because the gourds have mold on them.

While I like to use natural patterns in many of my completed birdhouses, on others I prefer to use a simple yellow gourd as my canvas. Depending on your final goals the prep work varies.


What is the fastest way to dry gourds?

Move the gourd to a dark, dry place such as a garage or a basement. Put the gourd in an area that gets plenty of airflow in all directions. You can hang the gourd or place it on a surface, such as a drying rack or pallet. If drying multiple gourds, make sure the gourds do not touch.

Where can I dry birdhouse gourds?

Dry or cure the gourds by placing them in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location, such as a garage or shed. Place the gourds in a single layer on clean newspapers or shelves. Space them so they don’t touch one another. Turn the gourds frequently and promptly remove any which show signs of decay.