It's generally accepted that the only thing you can do with a gourd that develops rotten spots
or starts to get soft and shrivel is to toss it out. 

A few of my largest gourds this year took this ominous turn for the worse & I was determined to 
see what I could do to rescue them.

As with any "repair project" the "stitch-in-time" bit applies here fully -- nip the trouble in the
bud at first sign of rot or going soft. 

I use the gourds I grow for musical purposes, which require the eventual ramoval of anywhere from
the top 1/5 to the top half of the gourd depending on instrument desired. The method below works 
nicely IF you want to end up with a topless gourd but not if you'd like the gourd intact (although 
the method will work for narrow necked gourds with a little forethought and perhaps modification
as to how the kitty litter is "compressed").

I cut the top part off, scrape and clean out as much of the innards as you can - I use a big
spoon. It's easy to remove the seeds and flesh - a little less easy to scrape out the harder layer
that's next to the final product. Once scraped out and cleaned, I soak the gourd in a 1:5 
bleach:water solution for an hour to kill any mold/rot process. Rinse it out thoroughly to remove 
any bleach then dry it using paper or real towels as best you can.

Next step it to cram (hard) as much kitty litter as you can into the thing! Overflow it (mound it up)
some. Gently push out (re-shape) any soft spots and make sure the litter is packed in tightly enough to 
keep them from puckering back inwards.Then sit it in a warm spot (top of gas dryer, top of gas furnace 
etc) and weight down the slight mound of kitty litter with something (I last used an unopened gallon 
can of navy beans). After a few days, dump out the kitty litter and you'll find the gourd has dried nicely!
Part of kitty litter's job is to draw moisture out of things. Because it IS a rescue operation, there may 
be a bit of (dried) "puckering" around the top opening and near any former "soft spots" but the top can 
be trimmed easily and I think the now hard and dry former "soft spots" give the gourd additional "charachter".

If you try this, let me know your results and if you have any other suggestiong.

Dennis Havlena - W8MI
Mackinac Straits, Northern Michigan
Click here to access my folk-instrument making webpage

Dennis Havlena - northern Michigan