artists, growtips, info & more

Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!

Happy New Year!

I hope that you all will look as fresh as these gourd chicks on New Year's Day and not like Sleeping Tim who follows! To see this collection of chicks and more,  click here  to reach Linda Viduals online photos.

“Just another hour” cries Sleeping Tim.

To see gourds, paper mache, jewellery and more  click here.

Happy New Year Everyone!
New Year’s in Belgium is fun. At midnight the streets come alive with fire crackers. A steady stream of people pour out of the cafes and restaurants to bid farewell to the old year and to welcome the new. The song, Auld Lang Syne rings out all over the world. For words and sheet music click here.

Monthly Specials at Northern Dipper


Kettle, Dipper, Wartie, Apple, Swan, Tobacco Box and Minis will please any gourd lover. Not cleaned, no substitutes. Full Value - $48.00  Special Price - $34.95 For more info click here.

  New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim!  In The US, New Year’s Day is filled with parades and football. In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, there is the traditional polar bear swim. People of all ages put on their bathing suits, and plunge into the icy cold water which surrounds Vancouver during the winter. For stats and details click here.

“Leaves” To see more Paintings by Hellen click here.

In This Issue:  Living in a northern climate is tough. We do things to make the snow and cold bearable so our attitude in January has to be that Spring is right around the corner!  An article on gourd seed selection & genetics will take us to those warm May days. In addition meet Amanda and Terry Davidson. Gourd growers and crafters, they have been growing bumper crops of gourds for the past 8 years in Saskatchewan and this article describes how they do it!  Also an article from Artist Claudette Hart on “How To Build A Spray Booth” as well as many photos of Claudette’s unique art.

The Gourd Seed-The Beginning With the beginning of the New Year now is the time to sit back and start planning your gourd garden. One of the most important decisions is the choice of seed variety. Choosing gourd seed that develop into the shape that you will require for your gourd crafting projects should be your first thought. Choosing the right variety, for your particular climate and conditions, can and will quite often make the difference between success and failure.


Throughout our planet the role of genetics is displayed in every life form. A good example close to my heart is horseracing. My years of handicapping have taught me that it is much more likely that superior race horses will produce superior offspring. With gourds, genetic characteristics from the seed are carried throughout the life cycle. They will show  in the size and shape of the fruit, the thickness of the shell and the disease resistance to name just a few.  

Dragonflies Like To Pollinate As Well

In the natural world insects and wind are the great pollinators. A cucumber beetle will stop at a male flower of the snake gourd and then move onto the female flower of a kettle gourd. Pollination has occurred. The original kettle seed has been genetically imprinted and maintains the characteristics of its parents. The seed that is developing inside that kettle has the father’s “snake” genes and the mother’s "kettle" genes. The $64.00 question is, with the cross pollinated seeds, what shape will the offspring be and will they be the shape you had hoped for?


This brings in the importance of acquiring true seed, meaning both the mother and father sharing the same characteristics. Developing true seed is another subject and will be further explored in an upcoming article.


Despite the importance of genetic quality the importance of the environment that the plant calls home cannot be underestimated. Almost all hard-shelled gourds take 110 – 150 heat-filled days to reach maturity. When making your seed decisions remember that trying to grow giant gourds in the far north may not be practical. They will require much more work compared to growing many of the smaller varieties.


Gourd growing itself is a wonderful hobby. The plants themselves grow rapidly and their night flowers are a wonderful addition to any garden. We at Northern Dipper acquire all our seed from reputable true seed growers from the US and Central America. This year we are adding some new shapes. To view our seed varieties click here.

This is the first of a series of articles on growing gourds by Peter Bell. Next month watch for an informative article on germination.

Amanda Davidson – Myth Buster We live in Saskatchewan, a prairie province that is known for its hot and normally dry summers and its long cold winters. Our season is quite short, spring planting is mid-May and our first frost is usually in the 2nd or 3rd week in September. We live in the city and have a small 12x12 greenhouse in the back yard where Terry grows the gourds and his favourite crop - tomatoes! Terry and I are seasoned gardeners and have been growing gourds for about 8 years. We primarily grow bottle and birdhouse gourds but have tried eggs and apple gourds. We also grow luffa gourd.

Terry’s Favorite Crop - Tomatoes

Terry starts the gourd seeds in the first week in April in the house. In May they get moved to the greenhouse. We have, in the past, grown the birdhouses outside but find the yield is superior when grown inside the greenhouse. The luffa didn't produce any fruit when grown outside, as our season is too short. To lengthen our season we put a small heater  in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks in the spring and then again in the fall, so that way we can plant a little earlier and keep going in the fall.

We leave the gourds in the greenhouse all summer and harvest them in the fall, usually September. I then let them dry in the basement. I will use the gourds to burn designs and then colour with leather dyes, I haven't yet taken to selling them, I just do this for fun and I give them away as gifts.

A special thank  you to Amanda Davidson for submitting this article. Good luck to you in 2006 with your gourd & tomato crops.

Claudette Hart, Arthur H. and Peter Bell

Introducing Claudette Hart – “The Gourd Lady of Merrickville”

One never knows when they will run into Claudette Hart. Opening a newspaper or magazine, turning on a local art program, walking through a gallery or  talking to people at trade shows, one thing is certain - Claudette’s name will inevitably pop up.

Claudette has been making pottery and painting watercolours in her Merrickville log house studio for the past ten years. Gourds have provided her with a  new medium that combines what she loves: the organic shapes of her pottery and the vibrant colours of her water paintings.

Claudette likes to work with natural materials and her designs include weaving, carving, burning, staining, etching or inlay. The fantastical creatures of Claudette's "Vision Gourds" (see photos) demonstate the creative genius present in all of her art.

Claudette lives and works in Merrickville, Ontario and is a member of the Village Artists' Guild. Each year she participates in their popular studio tour.

To see more of Claudette’s art click here.

Claudette’s work can be found at the Moth Art Gallery in Merrickville and at other fine galleries.


To view tourist events in Merrickville, which is a charming village in Ontario close to Ottawa, click here.

How To Build A Spray Booth by Claudette Hart

Before tackling how to build a spray booth, understand just how and what makes a spray booth work. It is very simple, there are basically only three things to consider-

1.) AIR -- a booth needs air and a lot of it to work properly.

2.) FILTERS -- a vital and critical part that is usually slighted.

3.) EXHAUST -- the method of removing contaminated air is vital.


What You Will Need:

- Cardboard box 20" by 20"

- Adjustable elbow heating pipe screwed onto the fan.

- Furnace fan exhausted to the outside. I use a Fantech Model Fx6.

- Package of 3 furnace filters 20" by 20" (Filters are probably THE most important part of ANY paint spray booth.)

 -Toilet plunger



 - Cut a hole in the bottom of the box to fit the hole in the stove pipe

 - Fit the box onto the pipe

 - Place 3 furnace filters against the bottom of the box (which is now the back of the booth)

 - Cut the plunger to fit the booth.(This is what you use to hold the gourd upside down as you spray it)

- Vent through a window or wall to the outside.


A respirator mask is recommended when working with gourds, whether painting, spraying, sanding, cleaning or cutting open. Paints like lacquers can be very dangerous so always wear a respirator mask.


Rubber Gloves
No matter how careful you are, it seems that paint or spray can sometimes get where you do not want it - all over your hands. To eliminate most of this, wear rubber gloves. They are pretty cheap and can be reused.



 -After spraying, I usually use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process, always with the fan on.

Happy New Year, Claudette Hart.

Thank you Claudette for submitting this article.

For tips and techniques on how to be successful at spray painting click here.

To view respirators click here.

Q & A

Dear Northern Dipper,

I have been wanting to grow gourds for the past few years but I live in Northern Ontario where we get early frosts. Is it possible to grow hard-shelled gourds? What varieties would you recommend?

Happy New Year,



Dear KS,

Thank you for your email. Gourds require a long hot growing season. As we all know the weather changes each year and is impossible to predict. Yes you can successfully grow gourds in the North but here are a few things to remember.


1 – Choose seed varieties that take 110 days to reach maturity. Many of the larger varieties can take up to 150 days and you will not have the required heat units for them to reach maturity.


2 – Start seeds early in your house or if you have a greenhouse follow Amanda Davidson’s advice.

( See above article.)


3 – Enrich your soil with compost and spread black plastic over your planting area a couple of weeks before planting your gourd seedlings. The plastic will warm up your soil.


4 – Keep reading the articles in this newsletter as it will have lots of tips on how you can be successful at gourd growing. Check out our website. The number of days required for the different varieties is on the seed page.


NEXT ISSUE:  February is Valentine’s Month. To celebrate we are featuring a true romantic, Ontario Artist Lois Dean. She has done an excellent tutorial on how to make a Valentines Lamp. As well an interesting article on seed germination, perhaps a report from New Zealand on growing gourds, gourd sightings and more. All the best to you in 2006. Happy New Year! ….Pam Grossi & Peter Bell


Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. (Sorry no photos) If you have missed any issues there are some interesting tutorials and grow information you may want to check out.


PS If you have any stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to


Volume 2, Number 11 


In this issue

SALE - Monthly Specials at Northern Dipper!


The Gourd Seed - "The Beginning" - An article about seed genetics by Peter Bell.


Amanda Davidson - Grower, Crafter & Myth Buster! 


Introducing Claudette Hart - "The Gourd Lady of Merrickville"


Tutorial: How To Build A Spray Booth by Claudette Hart


Q & A, Gourd Sightings & Trivia


"Antelope Magic" To see more of Deborah Easley's work click here.


Gourd Bowls

Painted Gourd  - To view more of these lovely pieces click here.

Coiled Tops

Create a beautiful mask by adding a little wood burning and colour

“In The Nursery” by Denise Meyers


“Schools Out” by Denise Meyers

Untitled # 6 by Denise Meyers

Denise Meyers is one of today's truly original artists. To view her beautiful gourd art click here.

Green Bottle

Gregor Mendel is known as The Father of Modern Genetics. Two interesting websites: click here  and click here.

  Beautiful Greenhouse Gourds Grown in Saskatchewan


Wood-burned gourd by Amanda Davidson


Chicks by Amanda Davidson

Claudette Hart's Flower Petals


Band of Women 



Holding Hands 

Claudette's Vision Gourds – “They Missed The Ark”

Close-up of “Cocktails On The Rocks”

The above 7 photos are the work of Claudette Hart. To see more of her gourd art click here.

Gourd sightings and trivia

Club Paradise is a crazy movie about a vacation you'll never forget -- no matter how hard you try. The expression “Stoned Out Of My Gourd” was used in it. To see more on this movie click here.

 Published by Northern Dipper Enterprises

Northern Dipper Farm
1666 Villa Nova Road
RR1 Wilsonville, Ontario
N0E 1Z0 Canada
(519) 443-5638