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To get thick gourds you have to prep soil well and fertilize when fruit is
set. The pest problem is also an issue. I have really sandy soil here so
nutrients leach quickly. I fend off the pests organically so they sometimes
get my best gourds. I try new techniques every year to improve them. El Nino
did not help this year, but this years crop looks good so far.
Opening gourds and cleaning out the insides is tricky because the dry seeds
and lining can be harmful to the respiratory system. In some cases folks have
had an allergic reaction which caused a lung to collapse. I have never
experienced that, thank goodness, but I have had some pretty bad sneezing fits
and runny nose for the better part of the day from not taking persuasions.
Ginger Summit the author of two great contemporary books on gourds told me in
a workshop that she has perpetually pealing skin on her hands from contact
with the gourds before the exterior surface is cleaned. Now she wears gloves
to handle them. I have never seen that problem before. Also another good
friend and gourd freak acquired a nasty eye infection in both eyes from
sanding the inside of a gourd in an enclosed area.
When you work with younger age groups it is best to do it yourself at home. I
set up an assembly line process and then put them in a big trash bag to take
to school. The kids get the fun part of picking one out and embellishing the
surface. In high school I have them go through the process. Washing the gourd
(worst part), deciding what it wants to be, opening the gourd with masks and
goggles, outside. Once the gourd is open they submerge it in a bucket of water
to settle airborne dust. Scrape out with old grapefruit spoons, clay loop
tools and icing knives. Then the fun part begins embellishment on the surface.
Most kids paint the inside or line it with velvet or leather.
I hope this helped you. Tell your husband to save plenty of room in the
garden. Happy gourd growing. Suzette