First off I would like to thank Janice Dean from the store Front Porch Gallery in Columbus, Georgia for the pictures and for allowing me to tell everyone about a common misconception about gourds. Each year, we get a few calls or e-mails asking the same question “Are my gourds rotting? They have spots on them that grow and get darker. Is my gourd going to rot into a pile of the mushed gourd?” The simple answer is no. But, I would like to explain to everyone about why gourds do this and how weather plays a role as well.
We will start at the beginning. After the first frost each year our gourds start the long process of drying out. Our farm crew of high school kids go out into the fields and cut each gourd off the vine, then lays them in rows out in our fields. These gourds will sit outside through the cold winter until they are dry. During the winter months, the gourds will freeze and thaw, all the while breaking the outer skin of the gourd, which helps them to dry out quicker.
During this drying process, the skin of the gourd sometimes comes off. In the spots where the skin comes off the gourds are exposed to sunlight. The sunlight will actually lighten the gourd where there is no skin to protect the shell (As seen in the picture on the right). Also, during the drying process, the insides of the gourd will often ball up. That ball of gourd seeds and pulp can sometimes stain the inside of the gourd a dark rust color. Since gourds are porous that inside stain can also penetrate through the gourd to the outside shell (As seen in the middle picture above).
Over the years we have learned that gourds expand and contract with the weather. We also know that gourds are porous and will absorb moisture in more humid climates. This moisture will often times make the natural spotting that you see on gourds appear darker (As seen in the picture on the left). This does not mean that the gourds are rotting. It just means that over time the gourds complexion will change, sometimes getting darker, and sometimes getting lighter.
All of the above mentioned “imperfections” are what makes all of our gourds different and special. Every marking and every pattern lets our customers know how unique gourds are. Next time you are in our store, line up three or four gourds and you will notice that each one is a little different even though they are the same design. We actually had a lady lay on the floor to view them from that angle to compare two bunnies (she ended up buying both). That is why it is so difficult to pick just the right one for you. So to answer the question, “are my gourds rotting?” No, they are just showing off their great personalities.