Cold nights have arrived at Yackandandah Community Garden. That means the end of all the frost tender summer growing crops, including our ornamental gourds.
Many visitors have marvelled at the arch over the path into the garden as these have grown, flowered and developed fruit but the leaves are now showing signs of the cold so it is time to harvest the fruit and remove the vines so we can use this area for another crop.
Our mature gourds will be put aside to dry then they can be used in many different ways.
There are plenty of ways you can condition your gourds.
The simplest, if you have space, is to cut the stems and stack the fruit in a shed, under cover, while they slowly dry out.
If you have limited space try tying them on a string and hanging vertically.
For those with plenty of garden space you can even leave them on the vines and they will dry out a bit slower over winter.
As the gourds dry they develop mould on the surface. This is quite normal so don't throw them out at this stage. In fact, it leaves the gourds with an attractive, mottled pattern on the outside of the shell.
You'll probably find that the skin on some of the less developed gourds will be paper thin and won't be much use. Best to just keep the fully mature ones.
It will take several months for the gourds to dry fully. They are ready when the seeds inside rattle when you shake the gourds.
After that you can let your creativity run riot to produce all manner of interesting, useful or artistic things from the shells.
Just make sure you keep some seeds so you can grow another crop next season.