Remembering Jim Story
James Ballard, Indiana



When I met Jim Story, I was 20+ years his junior and a novice at growing gourds but willing to be mentored by him. In return I helped Jim out with picking up growing materials and supplies such as potting media for starting plants which he appreciated after decades of doing the heavy lifting all himself.

Jim usually would start his seeds indoors and then take his plant pots to a close friend, Alice Wallace, to get them started in her green house. Prior to planting them in his garden, Jim would harden them off in some cold frames over by his garden. Jim didn't have an irrigation system for his gourd garden. Instead he carried water in buckets from the Fall Creek (which was right next to his garden) when needed. Compost bins were employed and, as we all know, gourds love compost.

Jim would show me, in his garden, some techniques in hand training long handle dippers into knots and how to use ropes and panty hose to form the different shapes. I would go home to my garden and do what he had showed me and I became hooked (I'm still growing and manipulating gourds). Jim would always share his knowledge with anyone who showed the least bit of interest and make gourdheads out them, like he did with me. 

Jim actually usually grew a variety of gourds besides the long handled dippers. He grew Chinese Bottle gourds to make necklaces, Warty and Maranka gourds for floral vases/vessels, Banana gourds for jewelry and floral arrangements, Martin houses for bowls and floral vessels, Cannon Ball gourds and regular Luffa gourds for floral arrangements.

Jane Story, Jim's beloved wife of 59 years, celebrated her 90th birthday this year on the 30th of October. Jane and I both would like to see every gourd society around the world show the Jim Story video at their shows. For many years Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky
societies have shown the video at their state shows, and others have recently begun to do so as well.

During the interviews of the Jim Story winners, both credit watching the Jim Story video (over and over again) with their subsequent success. The video can be purchased from the Indiana Gourd Society. The Indiana Gourd Society owns the rights for this
educational video and is offering copies of the Jim Story video "Vine to Design" for $23.00 in either VHS or DVD format. The fee includes postage. Contact: niemeyer@frontiernet.net



Green Cleaning Tips I Learned from Jim Story

 • Use a sharp knife for scraping off the skin with a scraping motion like peeling a carrot (or a back and forth motion).
• Do not dig in to the gourd with your tools.
• In the areas where ropes or panty hose are used for the training process a sharp pointed pic or a dental type pick are useful tools for green cleaning.
• I also use a fine wire like a guitar string or piano wire for real tight spots.
•Full view of two manipulated extra-long snake gourds
• A wire-toothed brush can also be used to remove the little bits of skin left behind.
• Upon removing all of the skin from the gourd I take a scotch brite pad or copper/stainless steel dish scrubber and rub the gourd all over, then let the drying process begin.
• Be sure the gourd is in an dry area that has daylight. In total darkness the green cleaned gourd will mold.
• In most cases the gourd will be dried out with a beautiful complection in about 2-3 weeks.
• Last be sure the gourd has a neat and clean stem (if it has a stem!) Jim taught me to remove any part of the vine from the end of the stem and to cut it at an angle or straight to make it nice looking stem (not crushed or ragged).
• When stem is dried, scrape off the brown outer skin then use the wire brush to remove any dirt and debris.
• After this process the gourd is all dry your gourd is ready to show.