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July 31, 2011

Grow luffa in your home garden

What is luffa? It is a gourd type plant, also sometimes spelled as loofah or even lufa, and is mostly known for using its mature fruit as sponges. The idea of growing my own organic sponges appealed to me, so I decided to try out luffa this year in my garden. I had the seeds for about two years, just never got around to planting them, so I germinated the seeds in styrofoam cups to see if they even come up. They certainly did, what a resilient plant, and were transplanted into the garden:

I seeded this luffa plant on June 16th, and it is not too late to seed it now, but probably not in August since it requires about 150 days to mature. If you missed this growing season, there will always be spring to try this plant out.

In less than a month the vines covered my six-foot fence completely. These vines love to climb, so the taller the support you have for them, the better:

At a month and a half of its age luffa started flowering. Here's the male flower:

As with any squash-type plant, male flowers come first and in abundance. Many of them will drop off prior to female flowers being ready. But no worry, once female flowers start to open there still will be plenty of male flowers to pollinate. On this picture (in the middle) you can see a young immature female fruit that will start flowering in a few days:

Not every female flower will result in a mature fruit, that's just the rules of Nature. But I already can see that luffa will be a very productive plant, based on the number of female flowers getting ready. Young fruits of luffa can be eaten just like zucchini, and mature fruits can be dried and used as free organic sponges. I am looking forward to update you on the progress of this beautiful plant, I like it already.


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