Homegrown Fun

    “Homegrown Fun,” Friend, June 1983, 16

    Homegrown Fun

    To have some homegrown fun yourself, buy a package of gourd seeds that produce large hard-shelled gourds. When cured and prepared correctly, these gourds will last for years. Besides the uses for gourds already mentioned, you can easily use one to make a gourd birdhouse by following these directions:

    1. Plant seeds according to directions on package. Gourds like lots of sun, good soil, and a fence to climb on.

    2. Harvest gourds when leaves have shriveled and stems next to gourds turn brown. Have adult cut gourds off vine with sharp knife, leaving 2″ (5 cm.) stem.

    3. Wash gourds with warm vinegar water, rinse well, and place in warm, dry area to cure. Turn gourds every few days, and keep them away from direct sunlight.

    4. As gourds dry, wipe off any mold with soft rag. Gourds are ready when they have turned from green to brown and seeds rattle when you shake them.

    5. Have adult cut opening in gourd by drilling a hole and then enlarging it with keyhole saw. The hole should be as round as possible and sanded smooth. Birds like to hop down into gourd, so put hole in upper part of gourd. Adult should also drill three or four small drainage holes in bottom and two holes at top for wire hanger. If perch is desired for larger birds, additional hole may be made beneath opening, and twig inserted. (Small birds avoid homes with perches since perches would enable large birds to prey on their young.)

    6. Remove seeds and fibers from inside of gourd through opening. Sand outside of gourd with fine sandpaper, and apply several coats of outdoor varnish.

    7. In early spring hang your birdhouse outdoors from sturdy tree limb so that opening is away from prevailing winds and within eyesight of your house. Check bird book for further information on bird habits.


    Gourd Size

    Entrance Size

    house wren

    4″ (10 cm.)

    1″ (2.5 cm.)

    chickadee, nuthatch, tufted titmouse, small owl

    5″ (13 cm.)

    1 1/2″ (4 cm.)

    purple martin, flicker, hairy woodpecker

    6″ (15 cm.)

    2 1/2″ (6.5 cm.)

    Photographed by Joyce Chalmers Perry

    1. Gourds curing indoors.

    2. Sanding gourd birdhouse for medium-size bird.

    3. Gourd birdhouse for larger bird.

    4. Hanging gourd birdhouse.

    5. Small gourd birdhouse waiting for “Jenny Wren.”