Vegetable Craft

Add some vegetable beauty to your home this Fall.

  • Bowling-pin shaped gourds, (Lagenaria s.), such as ‘Big Apple’, ‘Gakhaa’ and ‘Speckled Swan’ varieties, make wonderful birdhouses.
    Photo by
  • 'Strawberry' popcorn can be used to create beautiful fall wreaths and centerpieces.
    Photo by
  • Showcase the beauty of gardening year-round with handcrafted jewelry made from your favorite garden seeds.
    Photo by Fotolia/Christophe Fouquin
  • Strung peppers make a charming decoration inside and outside the home. Listening to the seeds rattle around inside the dried peppers on a windy day reminds us of being in the Southwest.
    Photo by Fotolia/marthamarks
  • Dried okra pods are a work of art in themselves. Let your creative juices flow to create beautiful dried flower arrangements with these seed pods.
    Photo by Karen K. Will

If you're eaten your fill of fresh garden bounty and put up the rest, try a new tact this season and use vegetables for interesting and useful craft material. Colorful popcorn, gourds, okra, and peppers can all be dried and transformed into unique handmade gifts or added to your home decor. From birdhouses made from gourds and mini pumpkins, centerpieces featuring dried corn, to jewelry and wreaths … all can be made from using your imagination and dried vegetables. It’s a cool way for gardeners to show their creativity, and a perfect way to add a touch of “vegetable beauty” to your home. Dried vegetables lend themselves to a variety of decorations and projects and, not only are these vegetables colorful, but many of them become quite aromatic as they dry.

With the many decorative possibilities that ornamental gourds offer, they are one of the easiest and most versatile materials for craft projects for every season. By combining some readily available art supplies, and your own personal touch of creativity, you can create some handcrafted masterpieces ranging from birdhouses and feeders, flower pots and caches, serving bowls, luminaries, and even table centerpieces.

Bowling-pin shaped gourds, (Lagenaria s.), such as ‘Big Apple’, ‘Gakhaa’ and ‘Speckled Swan’ cultivars, make wonderful birdhouses. Cucurbita p. gourds like ‘Japanese Nest Egg’, ‘Orange’, and ‘Small Apple’ make colorful containers for potpourri or tea lights. Try ‘Bali Sugar Trough’, ‘Bushel Basket’, and ‘Calabash’ to create a jewelry box or water jug. You can grow these gourds easily yourself or buy them fresh. Either way, you’ll need to dry and cure them before making anything.

Harvest the gourds in fall when they are fully mature. You’ll need a drill and drill bits, a small knife, sandpaper, a 1/4-inch dowel, and wood glue to make a birdhouse. Set these items aside while you thoroughly clean the outside of the gourds with a damp sponge and soap, removing any debris. Wipe them down with some rubbing alcohol and place them in a well-ventilated place to dry. After one week, move the gourds to a dark, dry place where they can start to dry on the inside. This will take about four to six months.

When the gourds lighten in color and you can hear the seeds rattling around inside when you shake them, the gourds are cured and ready to drill for your creation. Use sandpaper to smooth the outside surface. Then take your drill and bit to create an opening for the bird as well as a smaller hole for your dowel. Place wood glue on the end of the dowel and slide it into the small hole. Allow the glue to dry. Then you can use paint to decorate the surface of the gourd, if desired.

Multi-colored dried corn and mini pumpkins can be used to make beautiful fall wreaths, or wreaths for any time of the year. The cute, little 2 to 3-inch ‘Strawberry’ cultivar popcorn (Zea mays), produces rich, deep red small ears of popcorn that look like strawberries. Leave half of the husks on some and remove them entirely from others. ‘Rainbow Sweet Inca’ is another strain of a beautiful multi-colored corn that makes an ornamental addition in fall wreaths and centerpieces.



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