Gardening can be some of the same old, same old, but it doesn't have to be. Let's grow something really weird this year. Let's grow a luffa sponge.
Luffa sponges, unlike popular belief, don't come from the ocean. It is part of the gourd family, and comes from a strange, land dwelling vine.
There are a few things you need to check off your list before deciding to grow yourself some luffa. 1.
Do you have a lot of room in your yard? 2. Do you have a lot of sun in your yard? 3. Do you have a lot of room in your yard with a lot of sun?
Luffa vines can grow up to thirty feet long and you will need a fence. Cattle Panels work well. If you don't provide a fence, the long vines will find something to grow up on- like a tree or your house where you may not be able to reach the gourds in order to pick.
You can actually eat the luffa gourds, so they are not just for show. Luffa gourds need to be harvested when they are between four and six inches if you want to eat them. If you pick them while they are under four inches, you don't have to peel them. If over four inches, the peel turns sour. Cook and eat these gourds just like you would squash.
Of course most people plant them in order to harvest sponges. You definitely can do both.
Luffa enjoys hot, hot, hot weather. It can not take any cool weather. A May planting is recommended.
You can start the seeds in trays or just directly sew em into the ground. Plant your seeds about ¼ of a inch deep. Keep your seedlings watered well. Luffa likes plentiful amounts of water.
When your plant is four weeks old, begin fertilizing. Use a well balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
Your luffa vine will take off quickly in our hot May sun and soon you will see pretty yellow flowers. When this happens, it is time for the bees to go to work, pollinating the plant.
Shortly after, you should start seeing little baby luffas growing. As mentioned, you can eat the luffa gourds when they are between four to six inches, so eat some and leave some to grow into a sponge.
The gourds will slowly increase in size over the next few months. Harvest the gourds before the cool weather comes in. When ready to harvest, the gourds will become light weight and the skin will turn dark yellow to brown. If you shake the gourd, you will hear the seeds rattling around.
After harvesting, peel the bottom peel off and shake out the seeds. You can grow new gourds next year by saving the seeds. Next soak the gourds in water for about an hour. This will help loosen the peel. Pull the peel off in order to reveal your treasure. Your luffas will need to be laid out to dry. This process may take three weeks.
Now you are ready to use the sponges. They are great for exfoliating- or scrubbing off your dry skin. You can use them in the kitchen, in the bath and any where you need some extra scrubbing.
Have fun with this unique crop. I think it might be interesting to eat a sponge. As always, Let's Get Growing South Carolina.
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