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Awww, the sun is going down sooner. You know what that means? Summer is ending. On the bright side, the sun doesn’t glare right in on you when you’re driving home. There is an up side to everything. Sometimes you have to look really hard though. I’m trying to find the bright side to a spider bite right now.
After all of these years hiking the farm, I’ve never been bitten by a brown recluse. By the time you read this I’ll know if my streak of good luck has ended. Something bit me eight days ago and I’m awaiting the culture results from the doctor’s office. Yes, I went.
You don’t mess with brown recluse bites. The stuff they leave behind in the bite acts like a piranha and eats your flesh. I got an antibiotic/sulfur prescription to start while I’m awaiting the results. Here’s a chuckle for you. They told me to stay out of the sun. That’s like telling a kid with a pocket full of change to stay out of the candy store.
Seems the drugs make your skin very sensitive to the sun and I could burn real easy. I’m going to wear plenty of sun block and do my best to stay in the shade. Since I do most of my picking in the morning, it shouldn’t be too bad. I may even put a hat on.
My friend Brenda came in to the library the other day and asked about drying and curing gourds. I’ve never grown them but we did have a book and a “how-to” DVD. She took them both. Since there may be more of you new gourd growers out there, I did a little research.
It seems the easiest way to dry and cure most gourds is in the field, still on the vine. Let them lay there until the stems are dry when you cut them and the seeds rattle inside. If you have already picked them, then put them on a pallet or screen outside, so that they get plenty of ventilation.
Outside is important because they will leak the inside moisture out and it gets really stinky. Rain and other weather won’t hurt them. Also, remember to leave a couple of inches of stem when you cut them from the vine. Don’t twist them off the vine because experts say it could lead to infection and rot the gourd.
The drying time will vary, depending on the variety of gourd and size. It could take a few weeks or several months. Once they are dry you can dunk them in bleach water. Mix up two cups of chlorine bleach in 5 gallons of water. This will sterilize the skin surface and keep them from rotting. You can use a soft brush to scrub any debris or dirt while you dunk them.
Put them back on the pallet or screen and leave them be until fully dry again. Some folks do the bleach water right after they pick them, if they are not going to let them dry on the vine. Just leave them outside in that well ventilated area or you’ll have a smell that will linger for months.
Before Thanksgiving arrives, you should be able to craft anything you want with your gourds. If your crop failed or you just want some to play with, please let me know. I’ve got a source from a friend who would be happy to share.
Now, go dry or can something from the garden. The big chill will be here before you know it and it takes a while to stock a pantry for those long winter months. Just be careful when you’re outside and don’t walk through any spider webs. Happy growing.
E-mail Cheryl Steenerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.