Tropical Climate Gardening

Your guide to all things garden in the tropics

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form

How To Grow Loofah

  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Subscribe to this entry

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Blog-Loofah.jpg

 

How To Grow Loofah

 

At the start of this year I ordered a stack of seeds which arrived when we were flat out servicing irrigation systems for our body corporate clients so my poor seed packets sat on my shelf for weeks before I got around to actually planting them in seedling trays. Just as the dry season is approaching I like to research what seeds I will grow this year, plan out my gardens and get them in seedling trays so as they dry season sets in I'm ready to plant out.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Loofah-seeds-copy-right.jpg

One of the packets was loofah seeds which I bought off an organic supplier online, I bought the loofah so I could use the sponges but I also read they are an edible vegetable.  The packet said to soak seeds in water overnight before planting so I emptied a hand full in a bowl of water to start the process and commit myself to finally planting these poor seedlings out. It was my first time ever planting out loofah so I  was a bit ambitious by planting a whole tray of the seedlings out, little did I know how well they were going to grow.

Within one week all my seedlings has sprouted and were growing at a rapid rate, I was quite surprised as usually one or two seedlings lay dormant or simply cant be bothered rising to the task so to see all of them sitting there all healthy was a good indicator I was onto a good thing.

At this rapid growth rate I thought after 4 weeks I had better get them into the ground so I ventured around the garden finding suitable spots for  Loofah to grow. Loofah grow a bit like a cucumber would so they love to climb and I mean climb! I planted one at the base of a wire fence near an old gum tree and the loofah actually grew up into it and one day whilst admiring my trees I saw about 10 large sneaky loofah hanging from my gum tree.  I late read in a book that the loofah can grow as far as 9 meters upwards so keep that in mind when planting next to tall trees.

Shortly after spotting the loofah in the tree I then realised every single one of my vines had loofah hanging everywhere plus these bright yellow flowers in between indicating more loofah to come! The flowers are just gorgeous, the male flowers will appear first then the female ones with bright hue's of yellow. Flowers will open in the morning then close in the evening whilst also attracting useful bee's to pollinate my veggie patch its a win win. Bee's will actually travel to great lengths to get to your loofah flowers and ants seem to love the vines as well however they do not seem to cause any harm.

b2ap3_thumbnail_loofah-seedling-copy-right.jpg

If your growing loofah for the sponge like I was you can pick off the large loofah and dry it out until it starts to turn brown. Once your loofah is all dried out the skin will peel off very easily and you will see your loofah sponge. Simply shake all the seeds out (they just drop out so easy)  and store them away for your next crop. There you have it a organic natural sponge! At this stage you can cut the loofah into portions before storing away. I love the natural look but I do know people that prefer to use a hydrogen peroxide to get that bought at a shop look but personally I cant see why you would want to do that unless maybe your selling the loofah sponge.

I have been using my loofah for a few months now and am totally in love with it, it's softer than the store bought ones but yet you can feel it doing a much better job at exfoliating. My husband has been using his every night and even the kids ask for their loofah when bath time starts. If your into making natural soaps and lotions I see there are so many uses for loofah over the internet its definitely a vegetable I will continue to grow and also start using in my cooking.

Grow your loofah all year round in the tropics however I'm finding with the rains I need to pick the loofah quite green and dry inside otherwise if they start to brown on the vine water gets inside and a bit of mold starts forming. In the dry season I was able to let them brown on the vine then pick as I needed a new sponge.

With Christmas near what better home grown gift to give a loved one, wrapped with a cute bow and spring of wattle.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_loofah-flower.jpg  

What is a loofah? A loofah plant is a cucurbit which is a group of plants called gourds (pumpkins and cucumbers), the vine is an annual.

How to grow? Grow in seed trays and plant out at around 4 -6 weeks time, grow in full sun or partial shade however stick to full sun if you can for a better crop.

Watering?  Dont over water your loofah, in the dry water more frequently however in the wet season just let them adapt to the rainfall.

What depth should I plant my seedlings? Sow in ground 3 times the size of the seed and space around 50-80cm apart

How should I growth my loofah? Grow as vines but make sure your trellis is strong as the loofah can get quite large.

When can i harvest? Harvest in the tropics in around 10-12 weeks time, your loofah can grow straight or curved.

What other uses can loofah be used for? Flowers are edible when young, toss in stir fry's or salads. The main vegetable can also be used when young just like a squash, zucchini or okra. If your going to grow the loofah for eating make sure you plant in rich soil to ensure the best taste.

What type of soil do loofah prefer? Loofah like well drained soil with compost and organic matter however I did trail one poor seedling in a area of poor condition and it also done well however the loofah didn't get to the size of the ones in the prepared soil.  

Where to buy? I have been buying from Green Harvest for a few years now with very healthy seeds www.greenharvest.com.au 

        

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Loofah-Plant-Copy-Right.jpg

 

 

 

 

©Kylie Stephens
in Gardening Hits: 49730
0
  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Friday, 19 January 2018