Message from The
Durable hard shelled gourds provide the “canvas” for Karen’s
colored pencil work, and people often ask, “Just what is a
gourd?” Gourds in Your Garden by Ginger Summit,
published by Hillway Press is an excellent source for the
extended definition to this seemingly simple question. However,
a thumbnail sketch is a good place to begin.
For you scientific types,
gourds are members of the Cucurbitaceae Family,
and the Lagenaria Siceraria are the hardshell gourds
which have been around for thousands of years. According
to Summit’s book “The family Curcurbitaceae is one of the
largest plant families, which has the following general
||They grow on a
||The vine is
tendril bearing---that is, tendrils grow on the vine
near the fruit.
||The leaves are
usually five lobed, and grow alternately on the vine.
||The vines are
monoecious---that is, the male and female blossoms
usually grow on the same vine.
||All curcurbits are
plants which produce fruits---that is, they
contain seeds and develop from an ovary inside the
Karen Lilly, The Artist
fruits are the gourds which are so spectacular as they hang down
from the vines where once white flowers bloomed.
As these green
fruits dry, they slough off their protective skin. This is the
nasty mold that has caused many a first time gourd grower to
have a panic attack.
As long as the hard shell remains hard,
all is well, and the mold and old epidermis can be removed with
plenty of elbow grease. It may take 6 months to 2 years,
depending upon its size, for a gourd to dry.
The rattling sound
coming from within a shaken gourd is its seeds, sometimes loose,
and sometimes clumped together by a membrane.
Hardshell gourds come in
Basket, Bottle, Dipper, and Trough/Siphon/Snake types.
the more colorful names include the Penguin, Birdhouse,
Lump-in-neck, Wartie Hardshell, Cave Man’s Club, Banana, and
Humans have been using gourds
as containers, utensils, sacred objects, and instruments for the
last several thousand years. In fact, according to Summit, “The
oldest physical evidence of gourds come from the highlands of
Peru, dating from 23,000-11,000 B.C.” Obviously, gourds are no
however, because gourds are positively addictive; just ask any
member of The American Gourd Society or any artist who works
with gourds. For those of us who prefer to purchase rather than
grow our supply, Zittel Farms in Folsom is a great source. Try
telephoning (916) 989-2633, or go to
www.zittelgourds.com. for further information.