Partea Pot by Don Weeke
In this issue:
Many gourd artists combine basketry and gourds to create wonderful art and this month's artist is no exception. This artist however, is in a class of his own. Don Weeke's work is well known and can be found in galleries and public and private collections around the world. His art is unique and definitely one of a kind. Please welcome Don Weeke to the June issue of Gourd Fever.
In The Garden Arts we will be delving into the three P's - pollination, pruning and pests. Pollination is pretty straight forward. The more flowers that are pollinated, the more gourds you will get. Pruning - gourd vines can grow wild and with a little pruning the strength will be flowing into the gourd development rather than the greenery. That is what you want.
Pests - this covers many things including cucumber beetles, bacterial wilt and powdery mildew. The latter two aren't really pests but they most certainly can be pesty to the point where they will kill your plants. Read on, be prepared and get in the know.
We have our trivia sections which are always fun as is our mail. Donavan Woods is our musical selection and our "Other Stuff" segment is all about cleanliness. But in the meantime, let's get on with things. Coming up is our featured artist Don Weeke.
Don Weeke: In A Class Of His Own!
Don Weeke is an artist with years of experience behind him. He entered his first Juried Art Festival in 1979, had articles written about his art beginning in 1980, entered his first competition in 1981 and participated in group shows beginning in 1984. Throughout the years, Don has seen his art develop into some of the best in the country.
Don grew up in a small farming community (population 250) in southern Illinois. His exposure to art was zero apart from the quilts his grandmother made. Once in college the floodgates into the art world opened. His college roommate was an art major and Don witnessed many art projects during this time. It was not until Don was in his 30's that he decided to give art a try beginning with basketry. Over time this has expanded to include fibre sculptures and gourds.
The form of gourds, as well as other natural materials, are Don's basic inspiration in his art. He states that sometimes he tries to make the concrete, intuitive images that pop into his head and other times, particularily with gourds, he tries to enhance their extant forms. Sometimes new techniques or new materials open up new possibilities which can be very exciting.
Don has done it all...shows, galleries and competitions. He did festivals up to 3 years ago when two rotator cuff surgeries set him back. He still sells in galleries, has a website and teaches workshops. His work is found in both public and private collections worldwide. Currently Don belongs to a group who makes art based on a word. It is challenging as you can well imagine and it does keeps things fresh.
Don sees the role of the artist and art more important today than ever. Art slows people down enough to recognize the beauty in everyone and everything. Don's long term plans are simple. He intends to continue making stuff in one way or another...a fact that we are very happy about!
To see more of Don Weeke's art click here:
The Garden Arts: Pruning, Pollination and Pests
The gourds are now well established and are growing by leaps and bounds. Soon they will begin to flower and then the armies of cucumber beetles may descend along with powdery mildew. Not too worry though; we have all the bases covered.
One of my favorite things about growing gourds was going out to the field after dinner on a warm summer evening to pollinate. Looking across the sea of green the brillant white night blooming flowers waited for my paintbrush. Some nights there would only be male flowers, other nights only females, and on those special nights, an abundance of both male and female. We would work very steady as the flowers only last one night.
Each vine produces both male and female flowers. To the right are photos of both and after pollinating for a few nights you will be able to tell the difference from a mile away. To pollinate dab the male flower and then the female...it's like magic...you will have a gourd growing!
If you notice that your gourd vines and leaves are being eaten or that your gourds are being chewed into, the chances are very good you have cucumber beetles.
These 1/4" long beetles hibernate during the winter and come out in late spring/early summer in full force. There are 2 varieties; one with yellow and black stripes and one spotted. The larvae of this beetle do not eat the leaves or fruit but prefer the roots.
The cucumber beetle themselves will not kill your your gourd plants but the diseases they carry will. These are bacterial wilt and mosaic virus. This is why it is important to try to get a handle on the population before it gets right out of control.
Methods: Many suggestions have been sent to us over the years and here are just a few...
1.) Yellow sticky tape - String this tape along the bottom of your gourd plants and you will see results.
2.) Some people have used hand-held vacuums to suck them up. When the population is thick you will have some limited success.
3.) Coat some yellow rubber gloves with petroleum jelly and head out to your patch - those beetles will not escape that!
4.) Head out to your local nursery and buy some Sevin and spray. This will cut down on the numbers significantly and will help control them. (Always follow the Manufacturer's instructions.)
1.) In the fall after you harvest clean up your growing area and get rid of the debris. (Do not put it in your compost pile.)
2.) Till the area deeply and then put down a thick layer of mulch. This can be straw or hay; some people even use plastic.
Your gourd plants will appear like they really need water but no amount of water is going to save them. Wilt affects the vascular tissue which causes a blockage of the water transport system. Once the plant gets wilt there is nothing that can be done to save it.
This virus is deadly. The leaves will appear mottled with yellow, white or light green spots and they will have a blister-like appearance. The plants will be stunted and grow poorly. Once infected there is nothing that can be done. Destroy the plants and make sure that you disinfect all your gardening tools. You do not want it to spread.
Powdery mildew appears as a white powdery fungus developing on the leaves of the gourd plant. It progresses quickly when growing conditions are damp and humid. Once started it is hard to contain. For prevention water in the morning preferably with a drip system. Any signs of mildew cut off the leaves and trash (not in your compost.)
Some people have found success in prevention and control by using 1/2 quart of skim milk, 3 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 - 2 drops of dish soap. Mix well and spray both the top and bottoms of the leaves. Good luck!
Out Of The Mailbag
Greetings from the Toronto Chinese Orchestra! Here is the instrument I made from one of the gourds I bought from you. It has really good sound and is very loud. It was an enjoyable project so I'll be moving forward and making a djembe next.
I have a few ideas I'd like to try out; could you tell me a little about some of the smaller gourds you carry. Are they as sturdy as their larger cousins? Looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi Wilfred, Thank you for the photo and email. In answer to your question the smaller gourds can be as sturdy as the larger ones depending on the type of crop it was. If you can let me know more specifically what you had in mind, I can check my supply to let you know what I have. Talk to you later, Lori
"Other Stuff" - Can You Be Too Clean?
We, as a society, are obsessed with cleanliness. Many of us shower everyday and some twice a day. The aisles at the local stores offer hundreds of shampoos, conditioners, body washes, balms and bar soaps. In our homes we are busy scrubbing down with anti-bacterial products; as a matter of fact a friend who was recently visiting told me that Lysol wipes are her best friend! I can't help but wonder if all of this is really good for us.
According to Sandy Skotnicki, a dermatologist with over 20 years experience, as well as others in the field, we are going overboard with the need to be clean. She is seeing more and more patients coming in with nasty rashes that just don't want to heal. The patients are saying "But I am keeping it clean" many times a day. This constant cleansing is only making it worse.
There is also a large increase in people with "sensitive" skin. Plus more and more patients who are reacting to the many products on the shelf. What should one do in cases like this?
Another problem that is showing up is eczema which presents itself as inflamed, itchy, scaly skin. Interestly enough research has shown that there is a correlation between people with eczema and people developing asthma and hay fever.
Sandy Skotniki has a very simple and sensible solution to all of this. She suggests that rather than trying more products, one should begin to cut back on the ones being used and return the skin to the baseline state that biology intended.
It is important to remember that skin is our largest organ and it acts as a barrier between the outside world and our internal organs. It insulates our muscles and keeps out deadly germs. Skin is covered with microbes that are important to our immune system which help fight disease. All of this cleansing is washing these essential bacteria down the drain.
So the next time you are at the supermarket with your hand on anti-bacteria cleanser, pause and think twice before you purchase it. Or if you are stepping in for your second shower of the day, wonder if it is really necessary. To be dirty is not a good thing but neither is to be sqeaky clean 24 hours a day. There has to be a nice middle point; a point that only you can determine for yourself.
NOTE: Keep in mind that washing your hands well is necessary to ward off sickness. When you think about everything you touch in a day...yuck! Get that water running!
(The idea for this article came from the May 26, 2018 Globe and Mail. The aricle was titled "A Clean Break" and it was in the Opinion section)
Looking Ahead: September 2018
From The Friends of the Earth
NEXT ISSUE: September is a busy month for most as we are all getting back to the routines of life. The kids go back to school, the vegetable gardens are winding down and waiting to be preserved and those lazy, hazy days of summer are getting shorter and cooler.
Here at Northern Dipper September will be no different. Out in the gourd field we will be doing check-ins but in September, there is nothing to do apart from waiting until the first hard frost. It will be October when we can begin our harvest. Our summer workshops will be coming to a close and with the shows right around the corner we will be in the midst of building inventory and planning.
In the September issue of Gourd Fever we will be bringing you another fabulous artist as well as tips on harvesting and storing your gourd crop. We'll think of a few more things that will stimulate and amuse your imagination. So until that time have a wonderful summer and remember, take some time for yourself because as you know, summer and relaxation just somehow goes hand in hand.