Birds of a Feather by Heather Kinkade
In This Issue: Featured artist Heather Kinkade worked as an enviromental and landscape architect for more than twenty-five years but as the economy waned so did her job. Little did she know at that time that a brand new career path was going to open up for her.
Throughout her career as a landscape architect Heather never viewed herself as an artist even though everything she touched was design driven. It took gourds to make her realize that the artist is within and nothing is going to change that.
Heather's work is fresh and because of this, has won many awards. She has buyers and collectors throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe who love her one of a kind art. Heather also works with cast glass using gourds as a mold and the finished pieces, as you can see below, can only be described as gorgeous.
In addition to gourds and cast glass Heather paints and has authored two books. She is an amazing, high-energy, engaging woman and we are absolutely thrilled to have her as this month's featured artist.
The gourd garden is lush at this time of year and by mid-June a multitude of evening flowers will be in their glory. Every year we receive many letters asking questions about gourd growing. As a first time grower, many years ago, I had the same questions "How do you tell the difference between a male flower and a female flower?" Do not fear... all will be answered in "The Joy of Gourd Growing."
The photo above was sent in by Maureen Thomas (Thank you Maureen) and we have more mail to share with you. So take a break, pour yourself an icy lemonade and relax with this June issue of Gourd Fever.
Heather Kinkade: Breaking Free From The Mainstream
Heather is a registered Landscape Architect and in 2009 she was working in Land Use Planning. Things were going well and then the economy tanked. Because her job was related to buildings and no building was taking place, there were no jobs to be found.
Feeling frustrated Heather's Aunt convinced her to take a break from the job hunt and attend a "Gourd Meeting" with her. It was fun and Heather met some interesting, friendly people. By the end of the afternoon gourds was something that Heather thought she might pursue.
The next two years were spent working at part-time jobs while perfecting her gourd techniques. She had lots of time to practice and before you know it, she started to enter her work in competitions where she did really well.
Inspiration for Heather comes from the Nature that surrounds her. She has been trained to design 3D natural environments in 1D (on paper) through Landscape Architecture so she can easily go from a sketch on paper to visualizing a design on the gourd surface. She works hard at keeping horizontal lines and balance in the design.
Heather is now turning her attention to the inside of the gourd. She likes the idea of carving inside so there would be a design both inside and out. Her biggest challenge with her gourd art is time; a valued commodity most artists complain about.
Over the years Heather's art has become much more detailed with additional textures. The textures are created from the gourd surface; not from applied textures. It all takes practice and these are the words she tells new artists - "Practice, practice, practice - that is the key!"
In addition to creating gourd art, cast glass and painting, Heather's other passion is her involvement in rainwater catchment. She has written two books on the subject and her day job is the Executive Director for the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. (AECSA) She has been a member of this association for over 20 years now and wrote her first rainwater book in 2005.You can find her books as an e-book or perhaps find a used copy. Heather has a few copies left or you can get them through https://arcsa.site-ym.com/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=5686977
On a personal level Heather's mom and dad own a bed and breakfast in Cody Wyoming and Heather helps out in the summer by cooking breakfast over an open fire for their numerous guests. On weekends, after cooking breakfast, she works on her gourds at the ranch.
It is an ideal environment for working on gourds. The warm winds blow the dust away and she can get as dirty as she wants in her workshop. At the same time she is there to check in weekend guests. Heather is one busy woman and we would like to thank her for taking the time to share her life and art with us. To see more of Heather's art click here:
The Joy of Gourd Growing: Questions From Our Readers
At this time of year your hard-shell gourd vines will be displaying many beautiful, night-blooming white flowers. These flowers last only one night. This is the time of year that pollination occurs. Here are some questions from previous years that people have sent to us.
1.) I grew a few gourd plants and find I have lots of flowers but not very many gourds developing. I am a first time grower. The plants are healthy and to date I have been pruning them because they were so wild. What can I do to get more gourds? J.Z.
Hi J.Z. - First off it is important to understand the gourd vine and where the female flowers are located. It is the females that produce the gourds. The males are there just to pollinate. The male flowers grow on the main vine and the female flowers grow on the lateral/side vines. To promote growth in the lateral vines cut the tip of the main vine when it is about 8- 10 feet long.
It is advisable to do a little hand pollinating in the evening. The easiest way is to use cheap paintbrushes from the $ Store. Dab the male flower and then the female. All it takes is one grain of pollen to do the trick. Make sure to look under the leaves for female flowers. The male flowers are on long stems and are hard to miss.
2.) My gourd vines have what appears to be baby gourds under the flowers. I am finding that lots of them are turning brown and falling off. What am I doing wrong? K.M.
Hi K.M. - This is a question that all first time growers have. Under the female flowers there is a small gourd just waiting to be pollinated. If the female flower is not pollinated the gourd will turn brown and die off. As stated in answer 1 get out there in the evening and do a little hand-pollinating. Every female flower that you pollinate will turn into a lovely gourd.
3.) I am experiencing what seems to be hundreds of bugs in my gourd patch. My neighbour told me they were cucumber beetles. What can you tell me about these things and should I be worried? P.B.
Hello P.B. - Good question. Cucumbers beetles are one of the most common pests in the gourd garden and if the numbers are low, can aid in pollination. They over-winter in the ground or in piles of old garden debris and grass and in the spring they emerge and attack young plants from the Cucurbit family. They feed on the young leaves and stems near and below the soil surface. They can kill the plants.
Cucumber beetle mating takes place immediately after they emerge and the females lay their eggs in cracks and crevices near the stems of the plants. When the larvae hatch they crawl onto the plant and bore into the stems or roots. The grown beetles love to eat the flowers. Furthermore these beetles can spread disease such as bacterial wilt and mosaic virus. The beetles will be very active in June and July and will slow down in August.
Chemicals can be used to control these pests but there are other more natural insecticides available too. It is best to go to your local garden centre to see what they have. For an even more natural approach some people will plant lots of radishes throughout their gourd garden. Let them go to seed and leave them there throughout the growing season.Some people claim broccoli works as well.
Out of the Mailbag
Hi Lori, As promised, here are some pictures of my first few gourds. Just have to attach wire and then I will hang them up. Cheers, Mary Beaudoin
Thank you for all the photos. The birds are going to love these houses and to think that next year the babies may return to them. It's great having so much activity right outside your window. Lori
The gourds are finished and ready for the arrival of the Purple Martins. Thanks for your help; we are so happy with how they turned out. Shalynn
Thanks for writing. Did you get many Martins? Can you send some photos? We love those birds and hope that their populations are growing. Lori
"Other Stuff"- You're My Main Squeeze!
Lemons are good. Whether it is lemonade or lemon protein bars, this tangy fruit is a favorite. Did you know that the lemon is also a great cleaning agent. Following are 3 ways that your leftover or partially squeezed lemons can be used.
1.) Lemons will remove berry, wine and other tough stains from cutting boards. Sprinkle with coarse salt and then squeeze lemon juice over the salt. Let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub the stain with the flesh of the lemon. Let it sit for a few more minutes and scrub again. Rinse and dry the board.
2.) Microwaves can sometimes have a strong aroma but don't worry - a sunny lemon will come to the rescue! Pour a cup or so of water into a bowl and squeeze the juice of a lemon into it. Add the lemons and microwave until the water just comes to a boil. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Open the door, remove bowl and wipe down the surfaces. Aroma gone!
3.) My husband loves garlic and after chopping it my hands have an aroma that is hard to take. The solution is easy. Cut a lemon in half and firmly rub your hands. Rinse well. Also works for hands that have been handling fish.
LOOKING AHEAD: September 2017
Art comes in many different forms and this 36 foot long sculpture titled The Sleeping Moss Lady captivates the imagination of anyone who views her. The same hold true with the artists that are featured in this newsletter. Their focus may be gourds but their interpretation is unique in every way. In September we will be featuring another fine artist who will inspire you with their work.
For the gardeners the gourds will be maturing quite nicely on their own so now is a time to let Mother Nature do her own thing. Looking ahead will be the fall harvest and we will be providing tips on this, overwintering and storage.
Have a wonderful summer everyone. Drop by to say hello if you make it to Kemperfest...we would love to meet you. We will be back in the fall with another exciting issue of Gourd Fever.
See you then...Lori Chalmers