Ever wanted to grow your own gourds to use for making Wren or Purple Martin bird houses or some other craft? Read on to learn what it takes and the types it takes to make it happen.
Grow Your Own Birdhouse by Jackie Carroll
Bottle types (Lagenaria siceraria) are easy to grow on fences or trellises, and once dried they make an ideal home for purple martins, swallows, chickadees and wrens.
Although they can be grown in hills as you would grow squash and pumpkin, if left lying on the ground will they will flatten on one side and may be susceptible to rot.
If you prefer to grow them in hills, provide several inches of hay as a mulch to keep them off the ground. Bottle types will tolerate light frost, so allow them to dry on the vine as long as possible.
Painted Gourd Bird House
The longer they stay on the vine the better the chance at not rotting. Once harvested, they will need a cool, dry place to finish drying, which may take several months.
During the drying time mold will grow on the outside. It's important to keep cleaning them off during this time.
They are completely dry when you can hear the seeds rattle inside when you shake them.
To fashion your birdhouse drill an entry hole 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Smaller holes will accommodate small birds such as wrens, while a larger hole will allow larger birds such as martins to take up residence.
You should also drill a few tiny holes in the bottom for drainage. Drill two holes in the top, and thread a cord through them for hanging your birdhouse.
Untreated birdhouses will last up to two years. For a longer lasting birdhouse add a coat of varnish.