On June 4th of this year I planted Luffa Gourds in the vegetable garden. I had never grown them before but I remember when I was 8 or 9 that my Grandmother grew them outside her kitchen door down in Miami. I remember that she use to grow them to use as sponges.
Over the years I often thought about growing them but never got around to it, this Spring I saw them on a seed rack and said to myself this would be a good year to try these so I bought a package. I did some research and found that they needed a long growing season between
120 and 200 days. With the unpredictable weather we have I was not sure if they would mature or not but I planted them anyways.
They seeds germinated in 8 days and the plants quickly grew 3 or 4 leaves and then just sat and did nothing. The cucumbers came up at the same time and were growing fine. It way more than 3 weeks and the plants had not grown an inch I was just about gave up on them. Then one day I noticed that there was new growth on the plants, and after that the vines just took off. It seemed as if they were growing a couple of inches a day. I did some more research and found out this was normal. The luffa gourd has a very extensive root system which must grow first but then the plants shoot off like rockets.
As August rolled around I noticed the gourds were growing and that they appeared to be about the size of the cucumbers, and they were much heaver as well.By the time September Arrived there were at least 12 of them that were at least 18″ to 24″ long. About the middle of September the larger gourds appeared to be turning from dark green to a lighter green. The plants continued to bloom with a profuse amount of yellow flowers
At the end of September the larger gourds had turned a yellowish color and weighed much less. The skin would push in easily which meant it was time to pick and peal the skin off them. They skin can be split down the side and pulled off exposing the fibrous material. These sponges make wonderful defoliating skin sponges as well as scrubbing sponges for nonstick cook ware or even washing your car.
Aside from their use as sponges luffa gourd can be eaten and has medicinal uses as well as being an additive in soap making. If you would like to know more about the luffa sponge gourd you can check out these additional resources.