Gourd Fever Back Issues

 artists, growtips, info & more

Welcome to our first issue

Welcome to Northern Dipper’s new on-line newsletter, a forum of education on crafting & growing and a great source for gourd trivia. People are passionate about gourds so come on, jump aboard and catch the fever!

Gourd Fever - I see it all the time most recently at Canada Blooms with the floral designers, growers and artists. Some would spend an hour going through the bins looking for the perfect base for their arrangements or a special shape for the container or birdhouse they are going to make. We had people bringing in photographs of their work and others who displayed great excitement over the garden crop of gourds they grew last year. It was a hustling, bustling event with many repeat customers and hundreds of new customers. It was like a party and reunion all in one at Northern Dipper. It was gourd fever.

It is our hope that there will be something for everyone in this newsletter. We will have –

  • Grow Reports with tips and techniques on how to achieve a successful crop.
  • Tutorials on various projects and crafting techniques. This month will present " How To Make A Birdhouse" as we get so many requests plus spring is right around the corner and the birds are already starting their mating dance.
  • Featured "Artist of the Month" – There are many great artists & crafters that bring out the beauty of a gourd. Each is very unique & it will be our pleasure to share their work with you.
  • Articles of interest as well as reviews on Gourd Festivals throughout Canada and the US.
  • Gourd Sightings – From the movies, travels, books and museums gourds seem to be popping up everywhere
  • Happenings at Northern Dipper Farm
  • Q & A with P & P
So stayed tuned. Feel free to send it to a friend. We welcome your comments and if you wish to contribute send it through. Catch the gourd fever and help it spread!

PS This first newsletter is small just to make sure it works. If you have any problems please Email us to let us know.

Why grow gourds? Why not?!?

If you are a gardener and like interesting plants then gourds are for you. If you are an artist and like to work with an unusual medium then gourds are for you too. Perfect for a city garden along a trellis or fence or in a farmers field where the vines can spread. The beautiful white night blooming flowers are enticing and once the fruit sets all passing traffic will find your gourd patch very intriguing. Let them dry over the winter and they will be ready to paint, wood-burn, carve or for that matter, create the musical instrument you have always dreamed about. Seeds should be started inside about April 14 – 21 with planting out occurring after all danger of frost. There are also seeds for mini gourds, which are great for children’s crafts. Minis only take 70 days so can be planted out on May 24th.

How to make a gourd birdhouse

Early in the spring I hang a variety of gourd birdhouses in a large maple tree outside my kitchen door. It is fascinating to watch the new inhabitants collect nesting materials and make the gourds their home. Gourd birdhouses are easy to make and whether you paint them, chip carve or leave them natural they will most certainly be enjoyed by your local bird population.

Materials & Tools
  • Dried hard shell gourd with a diameter of 5 – 10". Dippers make excellent birdhouses.
  • Large plastic pan or sink for washing plus a little detergent and a plastic scrubby.
  • Long handled scraper or a coat hanger with a hook bent into it to clean the inside of the gourd.
  • Drill with small drill bit for drilling drainage holes in the bottom.
  • 1 ½ " hole saw to make the entrance hole. A hole saw fits on to the end of your drill. They are about $4.00 at any hardware store.
Instructions 1.) Fill up your plastic pan with warm water and a bit of dish soap or laundry detergent. Let your gourd soak for ½ hour and then scrub clean with your plastic scrubby. If you find you have some stubborn waxy bits you can use a paring knife and gently scrape the wax away. Give the gourd a final rinse and let dry.

2.) Using your hole saw make your entrance hole midrange in the gourd. If the hole is too high, rain will get in. Too low the babies might fall out. You can use a mini jigsaw if you do not have a hole saw but I recommend that you do not use a large regular jigsaw. The vibration against the gourd makes it a dangerous proposition. Drill 6 small drainage holes in the bottom of your gourd using a small drill bit.

3.) Using a long handled scraper or a bent coat hanger clean out the inside of the gourd. Sometimes the inside can be dusty so wear a mask. If you find that there is a hard clump of seeds inside you should be able to beak it up with a screwdriver. If it is still difficult fill your gourd with hot water, soak for a few minutes and you will find that that clump will break up quite easily.

4.) Proceed to decorate if you like. If you are going to do decorative painting use a basecoat such as Gesso before you start. A couple of thin coats of a Varathane will complete your project.

5.) To hang use a small hook. Another hanging method is to drill a hole through the top of the gourd and insert a dowel. Attach a leather string and hang. Bring inside in the winter.

How do I clean my birdhouse after the birds have nested?
Use a pair of long nose pliers to clean your birdhouse. Rinse with hot water and thoroughly dry.

Should I put a perch on? Some books say yes, other books say no! I have birdhouses with perches and some with no perches and to be perfectly honest the birds don’t seem to care as much as we do.

What size should my entrance hole be? For small birds such as chickadees, finches & house wrens – 1 – 1 ¼", tree swallow – 1 ½

Volume 1, Number 1

In this issue:

Why grow gourds?
How to make a gourd birdhouse
New at Northern Dipper
Gourd sightings and trivia
Gourd embellishments

What's new at Northern Dipper
GOURD MOLDS – A nice gardening gift for Mother’s Day. 4 different styles to chose from. Each mold set includes – One plaster mold, white egg mini gourd seeds, sturdy clamps and a complete instruction guide.
Find it now

SUMMER WORKSHOPS – Our summer workshop schedule is up on our Website now. This year we are offering Basic classes as well as a couple of others that were very popular last summer.
Find it now

Bushel gourds from Guatemala

GUATEMALAN DREAMS – Currently Peter Bell (from Northern Dipper) is in Guatemala loading up a container of Guatemalan gourds. Next newsletter read about his adventures (and hopefully not misadventures) in Guatemala.

Gourd sightings and trivia
"River of Sand" - A documentary featuring Bruce Cockburn in West Africa meeting with musicians to discuss changes in the developing world. Gourds were used in the field to hand-water the crops and although I didn’t see the entire program I suspect there were shakers and drums as well.
Find it now

Gourd embellishments
An embellishment is simply added ornamental features to beautify a gourd. It can be beads, feathers, buttons, or objects from nature such as stones, nuts, acorns, shells or seedpods.

Pine needles, sweet grass, dried vines, horsehair or more elaborate wax linen rims complete a project with stunning results.

To highlight the gourd, check out these outstanding books:
Gourd Pyrography by Jim Widess and The Complete Book of Gourd Carving by Jim Widess and Ginger Summit.
Find it now

Northern Dipper Farm
1666 Villa Nova Road
RR1 Wilsonville, Ontario
N0E 1Z0 Canada
(519) 443-5638
Get your gourds in Canada from Northern Dipper, your Canadian gourd supplier
Every month, you'll receive info, tutorials, and features on artists. PLUS Growing Tips from April to November. Every month, you'll receive info, tutorials, features on artists and much more.
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