Luffa Gourds: Natural Sponges

I had been looking for something unique to grow on the homestead. I tried heirloom purple broccolis and cauliflowers to no avail– cabbage loopers and cutworms destroyed them despite my efforts to save them.

The same happened with my cabbages and brussel sprouts.

The asparagus didn’t turn out either.

However– the luffa gourds took off!

I didn’t know much about the plant to start, but here’s what I’ve learned through observation:

  • Vine borers leave them alone. I had some trouble with the vine borers getting into my buttercup squash. As a result, I only harvested 3 buttercup squash. But, I didn’t have any trouble with the critters in the luffa gourd vines.
  • Bees love the blooms. Each morning, new buds would open and beautiful yellow flowers would blanket the gourd/squash terrace. And as if on cue, each morning bees would envelop the yellow flowers and leave weighed down with pollen. As such, all of the gourds were well pollinated and we have a pretty good crop.
  • They’re prolific. The vines had about a 5 foot radius in which to grow in every direction. The few that I planted absolutely took over that space and more. There are luffas everywhere!

  • You can eat them. The young immature gourds can be harvested and cooked like zucchini or even younger and cook them like green beans.
  • Harvest and “processing” them is simple. You can do this one of a few different ways. If you trellis the vines, you can let the gourds dry out on the vine and harvest them brown. If not, pick them when the vine starts to die back and the gourd has a hollow sound when flicked. Then you can dry them on a wire rack with full air circulation.

Then when they turn brown and dry, peel off the skin, and you can shake the seeds out and you’re ready to slice them up for use.

  • They make excellent kitchen scrubbers. I’m a recovering Scotch-brite gal myself. I prefer washing dishes with sponges over dish rags. They just scrub stuck-on food better. While the natural sponge doesn’t hold on to dishsoap quite as long as synthetic sponges, it also doesn’t hold on to smell either. I’ve enjoyed using my home-grown sponges in the kitchen.
  • They’re scrubby without being overly abrasive. I’ve used them on my skin after working in the dirt and they remove the grime left by tomato plants! Anyone who’s hand pruned tomatoes knows what I’m talking about. As well as on kitchen countertops and dishes, I have to say, I’ve been impressed by the lather they produce, and they’re not “scratchy” to my sensitive skin.

We will have kitchen and bath luffas for sale as we finish processing our harvest!

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