Do-it-yourself dishes and other crafts from Lagenaria
Once, a neighbor and I drank coffee on her veranda and my attention was attracted by an object dangling like a decorative ornament under the roof. It looked like a pot-bellied bottle with a long and narrow neck. I immediately realized that this is a bottle gourd - lagenaria. But the first time I saw her not in the picture, so I asked why they use it. “Before, when there were no plastic tubes and other devices, we used it to pour wine and brandy into barrels,” the neighbor answered. I went home with the seeds of lagenaria and have since grown it on my site. In this article I will tell and show how I make dishes from bottle gourd.
The use of lagenaria
In the modern world, we are accustomed to an abundance of all kinds of glassware and plastic. But our ancestors didn’t have all this with you! Glass was expensive, and plastic did not exist at all. Of course, clay vessels were abundant, but, in addition, it helped a lot in the household. bottle gourd, or Lagenaria (Lagenaria).
The name of the plant "lagenaria" comes from the word "lagena" (lagoena) - an ancient Roman vessel, clay or glass, which was used to store wine or other liquids. Due to the shape of the fruits of this plant, similar in appearance to the bottles, it received another one - bottle gourd. There are also many other popular names for lagenaria, because it is one of the very old and common cultures on the planet.
From ancient times, these pumpkins were used to make dishes of the most diverse shapes. Buckets were made from it so that water could be scooped up. Or a vessel to store liquid in it. Exquisite vases, all kinds of kitchen utensils and home decorations were made from bottle gourds.
Water in such vessels does not deteriorate for a long time, as well as in clay pots, but in contrast to them, pumpkin containers are much lighter.
By the way, in Africa, housewives still prefer to use dishes made of pumpkin, because the water in such dishes remains cold longer.
In addition to household purposes and interior decoration, musical instruments were made from these pumpkins to this day.
Interestingly, in a green (not ripe) form, lagenaria is edible. It is cooked like a zucchini or pumpkin, and to its taste it is something in between. And thanks to its rich vitamin and mineral composition, lagenaria has found application even in traditional medicine.
Now, of course, this plant is more and more decorative. Moreover, not only after making decorative dishes from it, but also in the process of growing.
Read more about growing lagenaria in the article Lagenaria, or Gorilyanka - a vegetable of all trades.
Features of growing lagenaria
Lagenaria even without fruits looks very pretty, has dense abundant greens and white flowers. And it may well play the role of a decorative screen in the garden.
Lagenaria seeds should be allowed to lie 3-4 years after harvest, then their germination will be better. And the rest is a fairly unpretentious plant, grows as easily as any other pumpkin. He loves a lot of light and warmth, as well as moist and fertile soil.
Lagenaria grows so well and quickly that recently they began to plant a watermelon on it, to quickly ripen the latter.
And when the time comes for harvesting, the most interesting comes. There is where to go for a fantasy. After all, the fruits of lagenaria can be very different: these are small, only a few tens of grams by weight, and large - by kilogram. In shape, you also will not find two identical pumpkins. It will be spherical, pear-shaped, and cylindrical, ovoid, etc.
Therefore, I really like to make dishes from all this wealth. Perhaps the dishes are said loudly, but the decoration for the home is for sure.
When to collect bottle gourd for dishes
The lagenaria fruits are usually harvested in October, although this depends on the variety. Pumpkins that were late harvested are best stored and dried. To determine the maturity, you can try to press the skin with a fingernail. If it is hard and leaves no trace, then the pumpkins are ripe. Although, in my opinion, to determine the maturity of the pumpkin it is better to focus on the stem and leaves, they will completely dry by the time of ripening.
Freshly harvested pumpkins themselves can be a decoration for a home or summer house, but they will not last long. After 1-2 months they will rot. Therefore, in order for Lagenaria to please you for a long time, the fruits must be properly dried.
How to dry a bottle gourd?
You can dry bottle gourds as is, without peeling them, and then simply varnish them or even leave them in their natural form. For example, my neighbors do this. Do not clean, leave to hang out on the veranda until the seeds rattle in them. But in this way only ideal fruits can be dried, without a single speck, those that hung high and did not touch the ground.
At the same time, during the collection of such fruits, you need to be very careful: mature lagenaria pumpkins, until they are dry, it is not recommended to touch them at all, as the thin skin can be damaged, and the infection will penetrate there. Pumpkin will begin to rot and may begin to lose its color. It is better to take lagenarium with hands in garden gloves by the tail. Then they are suspended somewhere in a ventilated room or on the street. The main thing is to be dry and warm. It is important at the same time that direct sunlight or rain does not fall on the fruits.
And if such a pumpkin needs to be taken somewhere and dried there, then in such cases it is wrapped in paper and calmly carried in the trunk of the car. The main thing is that there is no damage during transportation. Usually, the drying process takes about three weeks.
To make sure that the pumpkins are dry, they must be shaken. If seeds rattle in them, then the pumpkin has dried enough.
But this is ideal and, unfortunately, not for me. In life, it turns out that some fruits of an oversight can be on the ground. Do not throw them away? They are also good. Therefore, I chose for myself the second way of drying lagenaria.
I collect pumpkins, as usual, without gloves (I'm not afraid to damage the protective layer), as my pumpkins grow on the fence, and some hang, and some grow somewhere under the fence. I collect everything. I lay it out on the veranda, let it dry for a week.
And then I clean them with a knife. How to peel carrots or new potatoes. Scoop. On top of the pumpkin is covered with a very thin skin, the consistency of soap or wax. This coating does not allow them to dry quickly. In addition, mold and rot also appears here. It is cleaned easily.
Then I leave them to dry further, now they dry out much faster and do not deform during the drying process. In addition, in the future I want to paint my pumpkins, and on the cleaned surface the paint will lie better.
How do I shape utensils and other utensils from bottle gourd?
Bottle gourd must be fully ripened and well dried. It should become completely solid, as if wooden, and then something can be formed from it.
To form the desired item, I use a small hand jigsaw, files and everything that I find at hand.
You can cut it a little from the wide part, and you get a bucket for scooping water. And in the wide part you can make a large rounded hole on one or both sides, and you get a house for a bird or flower pots, or a candlestick. A big pumpkin will make a vase. And small, not very successful, of which you can cut saucers and use, for example, as an art palette.
If you start to cut the pumpkin immediately after cleaning, when it has not dried enough, then subsequently such dishes begin to deform. Lagenaria at this stage is relatively mild and it is easy to do something with it. It can simply be cut with a kitchen knife, as if you are cutting very thick cardboard.
By the way, the inner, white layer of lagenaria, after drying, resembles something like a foam. Do not flush it, especially if you plan to store water in lagenaria. Thanks to this layer, the water does not deteriorate and does not heat up.
After I already got something similar to the dishes, it can be decorated. I use professional art paints for this. Acrylic paints for canvas fit very well on a peeled, dried pumpkin. I just put a drawing, an ornament that I want. I really love the Mezen painting. It is as if created for such utensils. Acrylic paints dry quickly, in less than an hour. It depends on the thickness of the applied layer.
And then the bottle gourd needs to be varnished, and you can leave it like that. But for greater safety, it is better to protect it all the same. After all, varnish prevents its destruction from dirt and moisture. In addition, it gives a more decorative look to your product. And such a pumpkin will serve for a long time. Or you might even want to give someone a vase grown and made by yourself.
If you want to use such dishes for food purposes, such as a jug for water, for example, then it is better not to use any chemistry, but simply to dry the lagenaria well. In the end, if it soon goes bad, then in a year you will again have bottle gourds and make yourself new dishes.