By Glenn Burkhalter

1. Expect to break your first gourd---and maybe your first 10---or---20!

2. Extra-long handle dipper gourds are easier to tie than standard long handle dippers because of the longer length of the little gourd at blooming.

3. Both heat and humidity are important when tying a knot. The higher the temperature and humidity, the less likely you will be to break the gourd.

4. Start the manipulation as soon as pollination is complete. I start about three days after blooming. Hand pollination will help tremendously in this process. Without pollination, the gourd will turn dark and drop off the vine within two or three weeks.

5. On the second day after blooming, hang the little gourd over a vine, leaf, wire, etc. adjacent to the gourd. This allows the gourd to start the bending process on its own. '

6. The next day, (3rd day after blooming) break off the bloom. This slightly reduces the length of the bowl which must be dropped down through a loop formed in the neck of the gourd.

7. Use the total length of the gourd and the stem to make the loop as symmetrical as possible. No sharp bends or turns.

8. Once you have the bowl of the gourd through the loop, you have a knot! STOP!!!

a. But you may not be through yet. At this point, the knot will probably be in both the neck and the stem. For the Knot to end up fully in the neck area, you must work the knot down until the tip of the neck extends slightly through the loop. I usually wait until the next day to do this, thus allowing the little gourd to adjust somewhat to the manipulation. Once the tip of the neck is out of the loop, don't "mess" with it anymore.

b. Every day, the little gourd gets stiffer, harder to manipulate and more likely to break during manipulation.

c. You should not try to force the knot into a particular place on the neck of the gourd. Mother Nature will determine that aspect as your dipper gourd continues to grow longer and longer. Using a trellis, arbor, fence or other construction to allow your gourd to hang down will allow the neck to be straight through the force of gravity.

9. As you gourd grows to maturity, it will become heavier and heavier. To prevent it from breaking loose from the vine, tie the stem of the gourd to your overhead frame. (I use a lot of panty hose for this purpose)!