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Luffa Gourds

A few days ago I saw you on The Weather Channel talking about a gourd vine that grows thick and quite rapid. Also, it has edible fruit that resemble zucchini squash. What is the name of this plant?

I have received a huge response to the luffa gourd report that broadcast on The Weather Channel several weeks ago! It always delights me when a plant is such a big hit!

Luffa gourds are elongated and look somewhat like zucchini. They are best known as the bath sponge gourd. You’ve probably seen their fibrous skeletons for sale in fancy bath shops.

A lot of people think these sponges come from the ocean, but it’s actually a gourd you can grow in your own garden.

Luffas should be planted in the late spring after the soil temperatures have warmed. You can get a jump-start by sowing the seeds indoors a few weeks before your target transplant date. To speed up the germination soak the seeds in warm water for 24 to 48 hours.

If you decide to grow some you will want to give them plenty of room. They can easily grow up to 20 feet. To control the growth I either weave them back into the trellis or trim the excess vines.

The gourds are ready to harvest when the skins are dry and the stems turn yellow. If you garden in a region where the summer season is short, there may not be enough time for your gourds to fully ripen. Fruits that are still green, even though they are full-sized, will produce wispy sponges that don’t last very long.

To make a sponge, soak the gourd in water overnight. This will make it easier to peel the skin off. Some people soak the gourds for several days to make it even easier.

Once the skin is removed wash the sponge part to remove any seeds and pulp. Then place the sponge in the sun for about a week to dry.

To brighten the color soak the clean, dry sponge in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for thirty minutes.

You can purchase luffa gourd seeds from your favorite local garden center in early spring or order them through a mail order source.