I know, I have been posting way too many pictures of the luffas that I have been growing this year! But, despite being told they wouldn’t grow here, I have had a great crop! (For reference I live in a zone 6)
Quick background on this kinda cash crop: in World War 2, luffas were used for surgical operations, filters for the Navy’s steam and Diesel engines and for the Army’s helmet linings. They have also been used for pot holders, doormats, sandles and even mattress stuffing!
So, I ordered some seeds online in the winter and started them inside in April. But early Spring I had some nice seedlings that were waiting for the ground to warm up!
I waited until the very end of May and planted them along the fence line. They vine very far! I think they would love a big trellis, but the fence worked just fine!
At first, like always, there were only males flowers. But before too long I started seeing a few tiny luffas starting to grow!
Something that totally surprised me was how much this plant flowered! Every day there were new blooms and the bees loved them! I steered clear of the plant in the morning and could watch the bees busy at work collecting pollen!
It seemed like overnight those tiny luffas started growing into monsters! (And I love how you can see bees on the flowers below!)
And I was shocked to see the size of some of them! I’m a tall girl with huge hands and check out the luffa below!
By the end of the summer, I couldn’t even see through the fence due to all the vines!
And I was shocked to find that there were even luffas growing around sunflowers!
In early September, the dark green gourds started turning a lighter green/yellow. I waited until the plant was yellow and the tough skin started feeling paper-like before I cut it from the vine.
When they are picked, you must peel them. (Just like a banana!) This is my favorite part!!
Then I let them sit outside on my warm deck to dry out all the way.
After they are dry, I shake them over a bowl and get the one million seeds out! And for all of my hard work, I am rewarded with over a dozen (so far) scrubbers!
And my plans with them? Well, I am already using a piece of one to scrub the dishes. And I will be making some luffa soap out of another. And who knows what else! I do know for a fact that I will be planting these again next year!!
So, now for the truth. Did you think that luffas came from the ocean? 😊