Excuse Me, Did You Know That?

Martha Spillane

Gourds are believed to be one of the earliest cultivated species. Because the only known population of wild gourds exist in certain areas of Africa, archaeologists have theorized that prehistoric humans who lived near the rivers on the west coast of Africa first used the small gourds that grow wild in these environments as early as 10,000 years ago.

Somehow gourds made it to South America and were being cultivated in Peru and Mexico. Unlike all the other plants in the vegetable family, gourds were never valued for culinary purposes. Instead, gourds were valued for their utilitarian purposes as tools, containers, floats, utensils, in some cases, currency, and believe it or not, loofah. While much of the marking of loofahs shows the sponge in a seaside setting, loofahs are not the remains of an oceanic creature (such as sea sponges). They’re the fibrous flesh of the mature luffa gourd, allowed to mature on the vine until they turn yellow or brownish, and then peeled to reveal the tough fibrous tissues inside. Gourds, squash, and pumpkins are from the Cucurbitaceae family. Many varieties can float for more than 300 days in sea water without destroying the viability of the seeds inside the gourd. I’ll be sure to take one or two on my next boat outing. Source: harvesting-history.com, wikipedia.org, and savvygardening.com.

Strange but amusing facts that have nothing at all to do with gourds: Did you know you can’t hum holding your nose? Told ya; grapes light on fire in the microwave. I know you’re going to try it; The average mammal takes 21 seconds to empty its bladder. Are you counting? Lastly, the average U.S. household has around 300,000 items in it—time for another garage sale. Source: bestlifeonline.com.

Now, on to business. Aug. 10, Kathy Roche will be holding an orientation class. For additional information, come by and sign up. Here are some of the new classes coming up. Steve House has agreed to show us his method to the perfect-sounding thunder gourd and John Koski will give a class on the use of stains and the burning techniques he uses to make his pieces breathtaking. Dates will be posted on the mid-week Scoop and GroupWorks. We’re open Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Looking for that one-of-a-kind gift? Take a look at our showcase where many of our gourds are for sale.

On another note, we said happy trails to our President Darlene Powell, who has moved to another sunny state, “The Sunshine State.” We wish her, her husband Richard, and their two four-legged kids the very best in their new home. Taking Darlene’s place is Susan Walker. Susan and her husband John moved to Robson Ranch two years ago from Minnesota. We know she’ll do a great job. Congratulations, Susan.