Editor’s notice: Luffa vegetation will be sold at the VCMGA Spring Plant Sale on April 2.
Last September at Rockport’s Hummingbird Celebration, my close friend Janet pointed to a substantial vine with very long cucumber-shaped gourds. She mentioned they are luffas and our learn gardener colleague Noreen was growing them.
Noreen claimed she purchased a packet of luffa seeds as an experiment. She planted 4 seeds previous February just after the previous frost and didn’t see green shoots right up until late June.
Noreen planted the seeds in raised backyard garden beds from 8-foot PVC pipes. To secure the plants from squirrels, she protected them with fowl netting. Her yield was 20+ luffa.
Luffa (Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula) generally called loofah, sponge gourd or dishcloth gourd, are grown for their fibrous skeleton. Youthful fruits fewer than 7-inches prolonged and inexperienced can be eaten like clean squash or cucumbers.
Luffa has escaped cultivation and grows planet-vast in tropical woodlands, thickets and grasslands. It is a quick-increasing, generations-aged, once-a-year vine that is indigenous to tropical Asia. Vines can be 30-50 ft prolonged and need to have to be spaced 2 to 3 ft aside.
Luffa’s sunshine yellow blooms can be 4 inches wide, when its leaves can arrive at 10-inches vast. The 1- to 2-foot-very long fruits are cylindrical, easy and eco-friendly with a lot of flat, spherical black seeds.
Right before planting luffa seeds, scrape the seed coat with a file or make it possible for seeds to soak for 24 hours. This treatment will facilitate germination. Seeds are incredibly sluggish to sprout and demand gardeners to be client.
Sow seeds 8 to 12 inches aside together a robust fence or trellis immediately after the past frost. Luffa plants thrive in organic and natural soil in total solar. Hold vegetation moist but not saturated. To keep soil dampness unfold mulch all-around the vegetation but absent from the stem.
As soon as the plant starts to increase, clear away the very first bouquets and the to start with 4 lateral branches. This practice will consequence in extra vines and sturdier stems for much better fruit. The vines do want to be experienced on a sturdy trellis or tall fence for assist.
Whilst luffa do not need pruning, trimming them retains them at a manageable sizing and will make it less complicated to prepare the stems. Trimming youthful luffa crops allows the stems to develop in an orderly pattern and generate much more buds. In addition, pruning promotes air circulation and minimizes pests and health conditions.
Prune luffa with extremely sharp and thoroughly clean chopping tools. Hold out right until the plant has at minimum four stems and minimize all the first stems back to the major stem. Continue on education the stems to the trellis or fence and permit them mature. Pinch off the 1st flowers which are male. The woman flowers will acquire up coming and will kind the fruit.
Ahead of harvesting luffa, make sure the fruit is totally ripened on the vine. As the fruit matures, it loses drinking water fat and its color lightens. The shell hardens and begins to separate from inside fibers.
A typical rule is to take out the luffa fruit from the vine prior to the initially frost. Gardeners ordinarily break off the fruits outer shell by slamming it on a tough area or crushing it with a hefty resource. Once in a while soaking the mature fruit in h2o will make it a lot easier to peel. The spongy fiber within the shell wants to be eliminated, washed and squeezed to take away excess h2o. To curtail mildew, set the sponge in the sun right until it is absolutely dry.
Loofah is the fibrous inside of absolutely created fruit and the scrubbing sponge. Although the youthful luffa gourd is harvested as a vegetable. Same plant, two employs.
The Gardeners’ Dust is written by associates of the Victoria County Grasp Gardener Affiliation, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your queries in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901 or [email protected], or remark on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.