Last summer was my first attempt at growing gourds. The results were mixed; while I didn’t produce one big enough to make a birdhouse as planned (it’s very important to adhere to RSPB birdhouse guidelines), my best gourd was the perfect size for a hanging bird feeder.
When my best gourd was still growing I caught a slug eating it; it had taken a chunk out of its skin! I thought all was lost as I had read that if a gourd becomes damaged it will rot and not dry out. I very nearly picked it and threw it away in frustration, I am glad that I didn’t, the gourd formed a sort of scab shortly after the slug attack which protected it, it dried out fine and now boasts an interesting scar.
I have allowed my gourd around 1 year to dry out completely.
Here’s what you will need
- Bottle gourd or birdhouse gourd (dried)
- Craft knife
- Craft saw
- Marker pen or pencil
- Long handled spoon
- Fine sandpaper
- Coarse sandpaper
- Clear outdoor varnish and brush
- String, chain, or wire to hang the gourd
Start by marking out where you are going to cut the openings to the bird feeder.
I have marked out three semi-circular openings around the lower half of the gourd, one larger and two smaller.
I opted for two smaller openings to give smaller birds the opportunity to feed, but also because I wanted to preserve as much of the gourd’s structure as possible.
Sand down the gourd with fine sandpaper. This can take some time, don’t worry if your gourd has blemishes, it adds character to the finished gourd. Avoid sanding the areas you are going to cut out to save time and effort, they will not be part of your finished bird feeder.
Cut out the marked areas with craft knife and saw. This can be quite fiddly, be careful not to apply too much force and damage your gourd.
Scrape out all the insides of the gourd, saving the seeds for next year.
Now drill two holes opposite each other at the top of your gourd.
Thread the string, wire, or chain through the holes and create a loop from which to hang your bird feeder.
Give the whole thing a final sanding inside and out, using coarse sandpaper for the inside until smooth.
Coat with varnish and allow to dry according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Fill with bird seed and hang your finished bird feeder
Tip To extend the life of your birdhouse I would recommend bringing it inside during the colder winter months.