Dry Dancers

While watering plants today, I thought it would be a good time to post some pictures of how our Tennessee Dancing Gourds are drying out.

We have been using the big aquarium tank to protect some of our plants from the cats, and the gourds have been drying in there, too. Also to protect them from the cats, who love to play with them!

It’s awkward to water in there, and I didn’t want to accidentally spill water on the gourds, so I took them out and put them in the stack of egg trays I’ve got stored next to the tank. I don’t know why I’m keeping these, as we will NOT be using them to start seeds again. That did not work out at all. However…

… an egg tray turned out to be perfect for holding the gourds!

Here are all the Dancing gourds we were able to harvest for drying. There were many, many more on the vines that were too under developed to harvest.

Like this one was. This immature gourd withered as it dried.

This fully mature gourd shows how they change colour as they dry. It’s almost as dry as my finger tips!

Eventually, all of them are supposed to dry to this tan colour. It’s a bit of a shame, because their green stripes look so pretty!

This one looks like a bit of mold had started as it was drying. From everything I’ve read about drying gourds, this is normal and not a problem. When fully dry, they can be scrubbed and sanded.

Which is going to be a bit more difficult with gourds this tiny!

I moved things around inside the tank to fit the tray. Before, they had been just lying on the bottom, so they took up less space. We’ve got a tiny fan we found in the basement to maintain air circulation in the tank.

You can see one of my daughter’s orchids is going to be blooming again, soon! The one flower that is visible is actually completely dried out from the last time it bloomed.

I need to figure out what to do with all these plants, so we can use the tank to start seeds. Since there is no way to lower the lights, we put boxes under that sheet of insulation on the bottom, to bring the seed starting trays close to the lights. This tank has two light fixtures; the one that originally came with it, which lies flat on the top, and one that has stands on the ends to keep it several inches above the top. That one gets warm, and is one of Saffron’s favourite places to sit (along with the heat vents). 😀 She’s so tiny, it’s not an issue, but we’ve caught her brother, Layendecker, on there, too, and he’s about double her size and triple her weight. It’s weird how Saffron has stayed so tiny – even Turmeric is finally starting to fill out a bit – while Big Rig quickly became larger than their mother, and Layendecker, who was probably the smallest of the litter, is now as big as Cheddar!

But I digress…

One of the reasons my daughter’s orchids are in here is because it’s warmer. In the spring, it’ll be warm enough to hang them in front of a window again, but we’ll be needing the tank to start seeds long before then. One of them is small enough that we could probably keep it in the tank after raising the floor higher, but I am not so sure about the bigger one.

The aloe vera, however, will need to come out. We have all sorts of places we can put them, but Cabbages in particular is absolutely dedicated to digging into the plant pots. We’ve been able to create barriers to protect other plants. With one pot, we had to build a cage around it out of hardware cloth, and sometimes I can hear a cat trying to tear through. Which cat it is, I have never been able to find out, since they run off when I come out to check, but the girls and I have caught Cabbages sitting on top of the cage! I’ve seen Tissue trying to climb the cage, too. That Jade tree would have been destroyed long ago, if we hadn’t put that cage around it! Another Jade tree is so big, it covers its pot and protects itself, but we’ve not been able to create a barrier around these pots that the cat’s haven’t been able to get past, and they’re too big and heavy to hang.

Frustrating.

Anyhow.

When I put the gourds back in the tank to dry, I kept the wizened one to see what’s inside.

The answer is, nothing! It was so immature, I don’t see any sign of developing seeds.

Cutting it open felt a bit like trying to cut a dry, crispy sponge on the inside. Even the outer shell around the widest part felt like cutting through a brittle, rigid foam. It was practically weightless, too.

I haven’t decided what to do with the dried gourds, but I am thinking of cutting open at least the largest one to harvest the seeds. We do still have seeds from last year, so it would be interesting to compare germination rates.

They are so adorable! I look forward to growing more of them. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

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