Large, colorful gourds make natural birdhouses when they are dried and carved. The gourds must be cleaned with a rag, soapy water, rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. You need a baker's rack and a dark location to cure the gourds, which takes at least six months.
- Choose an appropriate gourd
Choose a healthy, hard-skinned gourd that has no signs of bruising, which interferes with the gourd's longevity. Pick a gourd that has a dry, brown stem, indicating that it's mature enough for harvest.
- Clean the gourd
Use a soft rag and soapy water to clean the gourd's exterior. Add rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and rub the outside again. Let the gourd air dry, and place it in a dark location for about a week.
- Store the gourd
The gourd needs to cure for several months in a dark location that has good ventilation. Place the gourd on a baking rack or other ventilated surface to allow air to reach the bottom side. If drying more than one gourd, keep them apart from one another to promote air flow. Turn the gourd at least twice a month so that it cures evenly.
- Wipe mold off the gourd
Gourds sometimes develop mold on their surfaces as they dry. Check the gourd regularly and clean off mold with a dry rag. Add a small amount of bleach to the rag if necessary. The gourd is ready to carve when it's solid and the seeds rattle against the shell.