The American Gourd Society has a network of knowledgeable gourd growers and artists who serve as a panel of experts to answer questions.  If you would like to ask a question, (or it you would like to volunteer your expertise to help answer questions), please email the AGS!
 
I would like to attach pieces of gourds together for bird houses/outdoor projects and would love some ideas about what type of glue would both hold the pieces together and withstand upstate NY weather? --Candice
    Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue was highly recommended by a NY home builder who also grows gourds. On Amazon.com the description includes Waterproof-Superior Strength and Resists Solvents, heat & mildew

E6000 Medium viscosity Industrial Strength Adhesive clear.is what I and another person use for many gourd and other crafts. The product description on Amazon.com includes that it adheres to all woods, metals, concrete, masonry, ceramics, rubbers, glass & plastics. It is abrasion resistant, waterproof, flexible and paintable.

Sometimes when using leather dye there is a metallic sheen which disappears whethe gourd is sealed; is there any product that will preserve the irridescent color? -- Aleta in WA
     I've gotten that yellow/green sheen especially with purple dye and have tried to maintain it.  I used spray fixative and several kinds of clear coat and it always disappears.  I've learned to replicate it (sort of) with a glaze of gold ink. --Karen C. in IL
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     I can't remember who gave me this advice, but I wanted to share my results. I asked awhile back how to keep that holographic (Japanese beetle-ish) shimmer from some of the leather dyes from fading when I apply a sealer to the gourd. A couple of people told me to buff the holographic shimmer with wool before sealing the gourd with acrylic... and it worked!!! It's gorgeous!  -- Kat in Cali
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     Some people use a spray sealer and seal in several extremely light coats to preserve it.   I have also heard that rubbing the sheen with the dauber (clean) that comes with the dye helps. -- Lisa Toth
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     David Wuttke of "Turtlefeathers" also replied that he had heard that rubbing with lambswool would work. Buying packets of "extra" wool daubers would be an easy and inexpensive  way to obtain "wool" for buffing.
 
Many of my gourd-lings have started turning brown and wither and die.  It seems as if this happens  when about the size of a grape - and the browning seems to initiate from  the flower bud end.  Is anyone familar with this and the solution?  -- Vikkie in Ohio
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What's going on with my baby gourds? About mid-summer, most of the new gourd babies (just as the bloom) all start to die. -- Sandra in Utah
     Your words are the classic description of unpollinated gourds. Everything looks normal until a few days after the female flower
blooms. You may be lacking a natural pollinating insect -- or -- if you have some gourds developing normally, several days of rain may have prevented pollination.
     Hand pollination should help and is explained here: americangourdsociety.org/FAQ/summer.html  You will not need to
tie off the blossoms unless you are trying to get a pure seed type.  --Lyn Rehm, American Gourd Society webmanager
 
This year my gourds were attacked by ?.  The stems at the ground turned brown and looked like possibly something was chewing on them, then the leaves started to die.  (Gerry in south  Alabama,  near Florida 's west border)
     I'm sorry to hear of your gourd situation this year and it's difficult to determine exactly what may have caused it.  From your description, two possibilities come to mind;  First, there is a squash vine borer insect that overwinters in the adult stage and deposits eggs at the base of cucurbit vines, which includes gourds.  When the eggs hatch, the young larvae bore into the vine and continue to feed as they grow.  This usually causes the vine to wilt and eventually die.  I have never experienced damage from vine borers, but they are not uncommon.
     A second possibility is a disease called gummy stem blight.  It's called gummy stem blight because of the gummy like substance oozing from the base of the vine.  Older leaves turn brown and die and the entire plant may die as the disease progresses.  A fungicide containing chlorothalanil may arrest it but as with most plant diseases, control is very difficult. Crop rotation might help with both possibilities next year. --Glenn Burkhalter,Past President, Alabama Gourd Society
 
I often find that the Gourds cure out with very thin shells, or soft shells. How can I grow Gourds with thicker shells ?
     The thickness of gourd shells is influenced by genetics, by growing conditions, but most importantly by the length of the growing season. The longer the gourd is growing on the vine, the more the shell will thicken. Gourds grown in the Southern and Western states with a longer growing season than Northern states will generally have thicker shells. Plant as early as possible -- start seeds indoors if necessary, and leave the gourds on the vines until the vines die. A  light midseason application of low nitrogen/high potassium fertilizer may help.
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     Since gourds that have come on the vine later in the growing season don't have the same opportunities to grow big and strong that the earlier ones do, I find that I reap a better harvest if I follow the advice of pinching off the baby gourds daily starting August 1st.  Yes, you lose some gourds, but many of those won't make it anyway, and you won't spend a winter envisioning all the fun you are going to have with all the gourds you have out there drying only to find out that you don't have that many after all.  (Hint:  Never count your gourds before they are dry.)
      When you pinch the babies and the male flowers in August, the plant puts all its energy into making its existing children big and strong and viable, because what does the plant really want to do?  Make seed!  And seed comes from strong mature gourds. -- Mary Gayle - Oregon
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      From my experience there are a few things you can do to help get healthier, thicker gourds; so while this is not an all-inclusive list, and certainly isn't going to prevent you from having to eliminate a percentage of your gourds in the end, it may help: - 1) Get your seeds in as early as possible, 2) Make sure your soil is well prepared, 3) Hand-pollinate as much as you can to extend the actual growing time of the fruit, 4) Water early in the growth period and very little near the end, 5) Purchase your seeds from a reliable source who knows gourds. --  The Gourd Guy of Wisconsin



 
  What fertilizer is best for improving the quality of Gourds in Tennessee ?
          For any specific locality, the best source of agricultural information is your state Extension Service available free from your nearest state university. Local garden centers can also be very helpful. If no one you contact is familiar with gourds as a crop, then ask for and follow recommendations for vine crops like pumpkins and squash.
          If you have a good garden soil, little fertility change is needed.  Natural methods include using manure, small fish, or good compost. If you want to supplement with chemical fertilizers, then use low nitrogen chemical fertilizers with good levels of potash  to help produce good quality thicker gourds. High nitrogen sources tend to promote lots of vine growth and a low fruit set.
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        Gourds like a slightly acidic soil. You might consider having your soil tested for pH and adjust it accordingly. --  The Gourd Guy of Wisconsin


 
I have a lot of trouble deciding how to price my gourds. Other gourders have suggested an hourly rate of $10 or more. Some of my smaller gourds (4 x 4 approx.) will take up to 10 hours to complete and the large ones 10 or more may take up to 30 or 40 hours. That makes them pretty pricey. I do a lot of detail work whether Im doing woodburning, painting or colored pencil so I want to get something for my time. Any other pricing suggestions? -- Pam
          One of the greatest hurdles to becoming a professional gourd artist is deciding how much to charge . Pricing your own artwork is going to be a very personal decision with a host of factors to consider. Start with the cost of the actual materials that you will be using. If you are spending $20 for the gourd, & materials used to create your art, then you should charge $20 more than you want to make on the project.
          There are no hard and fast rules about price per hour for art. The big, big names could charge $100 an hour if they wanted to, and still stay happily in business. Most of us don't have that luxury.
          Before you figure out how much time your piece will take, ask yourself what kind of wage you want to be making. The total price will be adjusted later; this is just a starting point. I'm going to say I want $10 an hour, because I've got more experience than a minimum wage job requires, and ten is a nice easy number to work with. If you are just breaking into gourd art or don't have a lot of skill, you may choose a lower number. If you are fabulously skilled, you may feel that your time is more valuable, then charge accordingly.
          It is very difficult to come up with a price in the early stages of your career. You may want to do some research first by looking at other gourd artists that sell their work, either on e-bay, which is hard to sell and get your monies worth there, or so I've been told, other gourd artists web-sites that sell their art on-line, gourd shows, galleries, etc. etc. You may also want to look at similar artwork to your own (size, medium, ) and then adjust your price to fit your level of expertise.
           Location is everything, craft fairs tend to get the least prices, juried art shows tend to get more. Gourd shows I'm sorry to say, usually nothing, unless you have an exceptional piece, or are very well know.  Galleries and Museums get the higher prices, the customer attends these shows expecting to pay more.
          Finding a good middle ground will become easier as you are able to sell your artwork; however,  Remember, people want to buy quality and they want to buy a name. Your prices should reflect your level of experience and popularity.
          Good luck, and I wish you the best. Lynette~MI.
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Anywhere from $10.00 to $20.00 to even more an hour is not asking too much for your art. You are describing your gourds as having a lot of detail. If this is the case, then the person purchasing them will know this by looking and realize the cost reflects the time involved. You also may think about putting the hours it took to create the piece on your tag. This allows the customer to do the math, and you will probably be surprised on how many people think it is a deal. Also if they have not done one themselves it is difficult for them to realize the time involved. So adding this to your tag helps.  I am sure you will probably run across a few people who shake their heads at prices. It all depends on the person. But you will also have just as many tell you that they are too cheap. So don't let it discourage you to set a rate that you feel comfortable with earning, because it also depends on yourself. Are you doing your art, for the fun or the income, or a mix of both? A lot of artists just do their gourds to relax, and feel that if they break even, and are allowed to purchase more tools to try new techniques, they are content. But there are several who are doing it to make a living. The hourly rate also really matters on where you are selling your art.  A fair, or some craft shows you will probably struggle to get paid a high hourly rate for your work. It really depends on the community the event is being held at. A craft show / art show, the rate can go up.  At a museum or gallery, the hourly rate may go even higher.  Whatever you decide, after you attend one to two shows, you will probably figure this all out on your own. Most people bring a variety of priced pieces to every show, to assure that they do not go home broke. The same thing applies on a website. Keep a variety of priced pieces. Some people may love your art, and want your more expensive piece but have to be content with a smaller piece in their price range. -- Mug from MI.
 
Why do many of my gourds have the white interior coating in them that's so hard to clean out? What can I do to prevent this? -- Ronda in Illinois
          After asking several people in the Gourd Patch, about the white lining in the gourd, we pretty much decided that the growing process, drying process, variety of gourd did not make a difference on the thick, hard to remove white lining showing up in gourds.
So we concluded that gourds insides are as varied as their outsides. But they did come up with some great ideas on making it easier to clean these gourds. Please note: everyone who wrote wanted me to remind the person who asked the question to wear a respirator or dust mask when cleaning out the gourds, just to be safe from the irritants of fine dust, or mold that can bother
some people.
         I myself clean out most of the debri then put in small sharp edged stones, and shake the stones around in the gourd. This does a great job sanding the inside of the gourd. I add the stones, shake a few minutes, then empty the stones and paper out. I repeat the process if necessary. Mug in MI
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 If it is intact, I tend to leave it just because it is so pretty.  If it's torn or has a few bare spots, I've learned to just fill the gourd with water and let it soften the insides for several hours or overnight.  Then, after draining it, I can usually get an X-acto knife blade or other slim blade behind a section of it and then I can just pull the whole section away from the wall of the gourd.  I go around the gourd that way and it makes cleaning it much easier and faster, besides cutting way down on the dust and irritants from it.  Works for me and hope that it might help. --  Iris in OK
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I've found that a Pampered Chef grapefruit knife (it's curved and serrated) works great on those white insides. -- Cindy in WI
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I've opened several gourds that had the white  lining.  Usually, it's in patches so I have to clean it out.  But,  sometimes I find one that is solid white which happened a couple of weeks  ago.  I carefully removed several layers to make it a little smoother,  sealed it with JW Sealer, and hand brushed two coats of JW Gloss varnish over  it.  This made it harder.  I had never done this before so didn't know  what to expect.  By the way, cleaning out a gourd isn't one of my favorite  things to do either. -- Hellen in TX
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I fill them with water for a couple days and scrap the lining out with the scrapers that Jim Widess sells.  You could make scrapers using those fine band saw blades if you knew how to fold them and insert them in a wooden handle. Helen in IN
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For most of my gourds I clean them with a flap sander attached to my drill - that does a pretty good job on the white pearl-like lining. For gourds that I need to do by hand - for the white stuff I use a scallop sea shell.  I have them in several sizes and curves.  They are easy to hold, incredibly cheap and very sturdy.  With a bit of extra effort they cut thru the white stuff pretty well.   The down side - it really scores the inside so it does require more sanding to smooth it out.  I don't mind the extra sanding - I prefer getting the white stuff out fairly quickly and it does do that. -- Suzanne
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I use the circular inner lid that is used on a canning jar. The edge of it is curved under and makes a perfect scraper, as well as it
shape being round. I use 2 sizes.. one for widemouth jars and the other for small mouth jars. Louise in FL
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Quite a few people used the lids to canning jars. :o)