How to Grow Loofah Sponges in Your Garden This Year

You’ve probably seen, and even used a loofah sponge at some level in your life. They work as excellent all-natural bath sponges, and may even be used for scrubbing pots and pans and different areas of the house.

Contrary to popular belief, loofah sponges are a vegetable, and don't develop within the ocean. This comes as a shock to individuals who uncover their favourite bath sponge could actually be grown at home. Learning how to develop loofah sponges is so easy as using the identical knowledge you’d use to develop cucumbers (since they’re each members of the identical family!). All you actually want is a few good soil, a trellis, and you’re set!

But first, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what a loofah actually is.

What is a Loofah Gourd?

The loofah gourd (more scientifically known as Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula) is grown primarily for its helpful fibrous tissue skeleton. When the fruit part of the plant matures, it could even be used as an natural bath or kitchen sponge.

Luffa aegyptiaca, in any other case known as angled luffa has lengthy ridges running the size of the fruit. The smooth luffa (Luffa acutangula) has a rounder shape, with shallow creases that run the size of the fruit. Both species are used interchangeably and produce vigorous vines with beautiful yellow flowers.

The luffa gourd belongs to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd household (1), making it a shut relative to squash, watermelon, cucumber, melons and hard-shelled gourds.

Luffa gourds are sometimes left on the vine to ripen till they brown, at which level their spongy matrix hardens, creating what we all know because the luffa sponge. Luffa sponges are tough on dirt, however they’re non-abrasive, so they’re perfect for laundry your face, body, dishes, floor or car.

While luffa sponges are helpful to assist exfoliate the pores and skin and get dirt and dirt off of dishes, this vegetable may even be eaten. Before the fruit fully matures, it could even be eaten like a summer squash, and compliments salads very nicely.

Why You Should Start Using Loofah Sponges

One of my favourite factor about loofah sponges is that they’re 100% plant grown, and additionally 100% compostable. Not many merchandise on the market can beat that! And contemplating plastic has become one of many worst sources of air pollution on the planet, we ought to be doing our greatest to go for merchandise like loofah sponge when we can.

Loofah sponges act as excellent exfoliators of the skin. As a result, they produce fresher, smoother and younger-looking skin. The texture of loofah sponges additionally enables them to get deep into the pores of our skin, eradicating constructed up oils and dirt particles that could even be clogging your pores. As a result, your pores and skin will look tighter and extra toned.

Loofah sponges can additionally replace conventional scrubby mitts and different plastic-produced private care items, and are higher for the environment, too. Since they assist exfoliate the skin, they're a nice substitute for exfoliating cleansers that are laden with plastic microbeads.

Another profit of loofah sponges is that they can simply replace scouring pads used for pots and different dishes. Scouring pads are made of plastic, and don’t biodegrade, unlike loofah, which will compost completely with out doing any harm.

Loofah Sponge Safety

As with most wash cloths and different supplies you use to wash the dishes or your face, you’ll want to wash or rinse the sponges after every use. Once done rinsing, squeeze it as a lot as possible and hang to dry. Try to keep away from leaving it within the bathe because the moist conditions will promote bacterial growth. Instead, hang it to dry subsequent to a window or different space with good air flow.

The loofah sponge can additionally become a breeding floor for micro organism due to all of the dead pores and skin cells (if you apply it to your face and body). For this reason, let your loofah sit in some freshly boiled water for about 5-10 minutes to kill all of the micro organism and different critters. Alternatively, you can place it within the dishwasher on the highest rack on excessive heat. Another way for disinfecting the loofah sponge is by soaking it in a dilution of important oils (like 10 drops of tea tree to 1 cup of water) for five minutes, rinse well, after which hang it to dry. Hanging to dry within the solar is recommended, because the UV light kills all bacteria.

If the loofah begins to smell bad it doesn't matter what you do (or if you see black mold growth), toss it within the compost and begin using a brand new one. The standard replacement interval for a luffa is round one month for these using it on their physique or face. If you’re using it for scrubbing the floor or the car, they will final a bit longer (about 2-3 months).

How to Grow Loofah Sponges

Learning how to develop loofah sponges can be extremely rewarding. There’s one factor about having the ability to develop your personal merchandise that you’d usually buy within the shop that's very freeing.

Before you begin rising loofah sponges, you ought to know that like most members of the Cucurbitaceae family, they love full, direct daylight and well-drained however moist soil. If you have compost or natural fertilizer, add that to the mix, too. Their strong vigorous vines want a lot of room to develop (30 feet in some cases!), so a trellis and even chain-link fence would work completely on this case.

These fruits additionally want round 150-200 heat days to ripen, so if you reside in additional northern climates, it's recommended to begin the seeds indoors at least 5-6 weeks earlier than planting in hotter weather.

With that being said, right here is how to develop loofah sponges:

1. If you’re in a Northern local weather or a cooler rising zone, make certain to begin your luffa seeds indoors at least 6 weeks earlier than the final frost.

2. Make sure the seeds are soaked in water for twenty-four hours earlier than planting (whether you’re beginning them indoors or outside).

3. If you are beginning the seeds indoors, plant them in biodegradable pots to reduce the risk of shock that most luffa plants undergo when transplanted outdoors. These biodegradable planters will break down within the soil, as they’re made up of 100% plant material.

4. When the hazard of frost has handed (as in, the soil is warm, and so is the air), plant your seedlings or seeds directly into the soil, about one foot apart. You ought to plant them alongside a trellis, or fence (like a chain-link fence), the place the vines can steadily seize hold. Also be sure that this space receives loads of direct daylight all through the day. Anything less, and they won't grow.

5. If you can, add some kind of natural fertilizer or rock mud to the soil to improve rising capabilities of the plant. Mulching with natural straw is additionally recommended, because it will assist keep the soil  moist (which luffa sponges love), and weeds at bay.

6. After you’ve accomplished the steps above, all you want to do is wait! By October, you ought to have big, inexperienced luffas. At this point, you can harvest the gourd if you reside in a chilly local weather (you don’t want to risk frost with the luffa), however when you reside in a hotter local weather the place frost doesn’t hit till way later within the season, leave the gourds on the vine till they begin to show brown. Luffa can be harvested within the inexperienced or brown phase – the one distinction is that it will be harder to peel them if they’re green.

Once you’ve harvested your loofah, now is the time to peel and process!

Peeling and Processing Loofah Sponges

If you have a loofah that's nonetheless inexperienced on the outside, you'll have to attend about a month earlier than peeling (according to Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff). Karen lives in Canada and opposite to popular belief, she was able to get perfect loofah sponges even after harvesting within the inexperienced stage. All she did was leave them on the porch to air-dry for a month, after which peeled them.

If you leave your luffas to fully mature, they’ll develop a tough, brown outer pores and skin that sometimes cracks. If it's already cracked, you can pull it off in pieces. If the pores and skin is nonetheless intact, you can gently press against the pores and skin till cracks begin to appear, at which level you can take away from the fibrous inside.

Once the pores and skin has been eliminated (whether that's inexperienced or brown), shake out the seeds and allow them to dry out on a paper towel to save for the subsequent year. Then wash the sap out of the sponge with heat water.

Next, you’ll want to fully dry out the sponges within the sun, turning them frequently till completely dry. These sponges will keep for years if kept in a cloth bag.

Where Do You Purchase Luffa Seeds?

The best place to supply luffa seeds is online. West Coast Seeds sells a miriam sponge gourd luffa that grows very lengthy and matures in fifty two days.

You can additionally buy a packet of ninety luffa seeds off Amazon for simply $10! That’s about the price of 1 luffa sponge!

If you’ve ever had the chance of rising your personal luffa gourd, let me know within the feedback below! I’ll be trying it out in my very personal backyard this year or the next, and I’m excited what comes of the planting journey. 

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