How To Make A Gourd Birdhouse

Learn how to make a bird house out of a gourd grown in your garden.

Making a gourd birdhouse is great fun, but takes planning, sometimes months ahead of time. The gourds used in making birdhouses can be grown right in your garden.

One of the best gourds for growing for birdhouse making is a bottle gourd, sometimes called a Mexican bottle gourd, or seeds may even be packaged as "birdhouse gourd". Birdhouse gourds are becoming so popular that instead of the scientific name of the plant on the seed packet, it simply says "birdhouse gourd".

The seeds should be planted after the last danger of frost has passed in the spring. You may want to start the seeds a couple of weeks earlier indoors, since the process from seed to birdhouse gourd takes so long. The plants need to be spread out so that they have plenty of room to grow. They also should have something sturdy to climb up for optimum growth. Be sure they get plenty of water, especially during dry spells.

When the gourds are mature they will have turned from green to tan. When you break or cut the gourd from the vine, be sure to leave at least 3-4 inches of vine as a stem to hang it with later. The gourd needs to lay to dry in a warm, dry place with good air circulation. The drying process can take up to several months. The main way to know if it is dry is to shake it. If the seeds rattle around inside, it is dry. The gourd may have some moldy and unsightly spots on it but don't let this throw you. This is part of its natural drying process.

Wash the outside of the gourd with soapy water or a soapy steel wool pad (be gentle). Dry it with a towel. When it is dry you can decide how you would like to decorate it. If you choose to paint it, let it dry 24 hours between coats and then cover with shellac. If you decide to leave it natural you will still need to coat it with shellac to protect it from the elements, putting on at least 2 coats with a drying time of 24 hours in between them.

To make the opening, drill or cut a hole 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Use a stick or wooden spoon to clean the seeds and residue out from inside.

To hang the gourd, attach a wire through the stem close to where it meets the gourd so it will be more secure.

Hang... and enjoy watching your feathered friends take up residence.

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