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Has anyone grown their own luffa?

OK.  I guess I’m an idiot.  All these years on this planet and until yesterday, I though luffas were sponges from the ocean.  I read an article in the current Mother Earth News, and find the danged things are a plant, related to a cucumber.  Like cucumber, it grows on a long vine and when young, can be eaten.  Once mature, you dry them & peel the skin off, harvest a bunch of seed & now you have your own luffas.

So I ordered me some seed & I’m gonna grow my own luffas.  Just curious if anyone has any experience with them.  Online, I see where folks say they are incredibly easy to grow & don’t have the disease/pest issues of cucumbers or squash.  I’m sure I’ll eat some too.

luffa trellis

grow-your-own-luffa

growing-loofa-4

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  • Comments (28)

    • 3

      Hi Redneck, 

      Sorry to say this but, I stopped using Loofahs years ago when I found out that they can harbor bacteria. I don’t use those scrubber sponges either for the same reason.

      Here’s some info on the loofahs:

      https://www.southernliving.com/news/loofah-bacteria-dermatologists#:~:text=A%20loofah%20scrubs%20dirt%20and,trapped%20in%20its%20delicate%20weave.&text=A%201994%20study%20published%20in,patients%20with%20weak%20immune%20systems.

      But maybe, they taste really good and will be a lot of fun to grow. They look really interesting from the pictures.

      • 4

        Seems to me, this issue could be attributed to any scrub device.  I’m sure any sponges or similar people have in their kitchen would be the same.  I’d hate to see the lab results from my kitchen scrub sponge.   I also note in that article, they picture plastic ones and not natural ones.

        Seems like you have two options in using them if this is a concern.  1) Take them out of an enclosed tub/shower & allow them to dry between uses.  2) Since they are so large & you can grow so many, slice them into rounds maybe 2″ thick, and dispose after use.

        220px-Luffa_sponge

      • 3

        Hi Redneck, 

        The video showed a synthetic “Buff Puff” product but the article does refer to both Loofah and Buff Puff. 

        It caught my eye because of the issue with weakened immune systems. Some folks may need to understand this or if it is safe for them to use.

        You are correct that this issue can be attributed to any scrub device, which is why I no longer use those items, at least in the way most people do. For example, to work around this, I cut smaller pieces out of the flat scrubber pads for single use and dispose of them immediately after use.

        I do use a Buff Puff, but with stringent conditions for drying. I track when I swap them out also because these items aren’t like wash cloths that get laundered. 

        My husband never had a problem with his Loofah because he used to blast it down the centre with the shower sprayer and dry it thoroughly between uses. He used a whole one because it was great for getting his back.

        Anyway,  I wish you well with this new project. I always enjoy hearing about your experiments and learn a lot from you.

      • 3

        I’ve discovered the Salux which is a sheet bath scrubber that you can bunch up like a pouf or stretch across your back.  Much easier to pack for travel too.   It hangs and dries between showers.  I also wash it in a bag in the machine (no dryer) with the towels.  Has lasted years and never had any issues with mold or bacteria.  I’ve found knock offs of the original Salux at the dollar store (typically smaller and less exfoliating).

      • 2

        Alicia,

        Thank you very much for this info. I have immune concerns, so I’m always on the lookout for items that will be safe for me to use or have in my home. Much appreciated 🙂

    • 2

      Always learning new things each time I log into this site! Didn’t know that this plant existed. 

      I love me a good loofah shower. Seems like once a month I use my plastic $5 loofah and do a good exfoliation over my whole body. All the other times I use a wash cloth, which doesn’t give as good of an exfoliation, but still not bad. After I use the loofah, or wash cloth, I just wash it with the dirty clothes to sanitize it. You do have to air dry the loofah though because your dryer will melt it.

      You’ll have to do some tests with your natural luffas Redneck. I’m curious to how it will turn out. Do you have an awning or something like that first picture has them growing on?

      • 2

        I most certainly will test them out.  I’m thinking of letting them grow on the fence next to my blackberries.  You can see the blackberry canes in the background.  Otherwise, I have another one of these trellises that I make from fencing & welded tubing.  This is where I grow my pole beans.

        I do like to experiment with new varieties & plants.  This year I’m trying out a different amaranth & gonna grow upland rice for the first time.  And now I’ll have to find room for the luffas.

        collards kale jan

      • 2

        Liz,

        Something I learned about scrubs is to use ordinary white table sugar which contains AHA’s (Alpha hydroxy acids) contained in expensive commercial products.

        In the shower, I use sugar in the palm of my hand to gently scrub and exfoliate my skin. Afterward, my skin is soft and smooth. People used to comment on how clear and nice my complexion was and I told them just a couple of times a week with white sugar.

        Sugar is not great for our insides, but apparently works pretty well for the outside. Just remember to be gentle as with any scrub.

      • 2

        Ubique, 

        I don’t drink coffee myself but used to work in an office with a coffee machine. I would take the old coffee grounds and bring them home and spread them out on a cookie sheet and leave it in the sun to dry. If you don’t dry them, they’ll mold. 

        Once dry, I put them in a mason jar and had that in my shower. When showering I would sprinkle a bit into my hands and exfoliate my skin with them. Worked well and smelt great. 

        Just one way to try and recycle and reuse something. 

      • 2

        Neat idea, Liz. I will have to try that. I like to reuse and recycle, too.

    • 4

      I might try to grow some this year. I have seeds. My father-in-law is trying to get me to grow a type that’s called “climbing okra” or “Chinese okra,” though it’s not actually okra, but a luffa. We have a baby due in July, so I’m not quite as ambitious with the garden this year.

      • 3

        New baby = Life as you know it gone forever.  🙂

        From my reading, Chinese okra is just another name for the luffa.  One article stated the young luffa taste & are used similar to okra.  In that case, we southerners will use it in soups & gumbo, plus slice it thin, coat with cornmeal & fry.  A perfect summer meal would have fresh tomatoes, corn on the cobb, green beans & fried okra.  Can’t wait for summer!  Our temps are headed for high 70s & 80+ this week so guess I will plant my sweet corn.

      • 2

        Aww Josh! Congratulations to you and the Mrs!

        You are growing the best crop of all this year – a baby!

        Next year you will have a little gardening buddy to help you 🙂

    • 3

      Hooray! Someone else trying to grow their own luffas!

      I made an attempt last year but it didn’t end well. I was too ambitious with the garden and started all my seeds way too early so I didn’t have any luffa sprout. This year I am making a second attempt and being a tad more patient about planting. The only person I’ve seen grow their own luffa is Epic Gardening on YouTube but he’s in Southern California with the perfect weather for them. Since I am in the Midwest, I’m not sure how this will go.

      Good luck! I’m excited to learn how it turns out for you!

      • 1

        I wish you the best of luck this next year Lindsey! 

        Why do you want to grow luffas? 

      • 2

        I’ll answer why I’m trying it.  First of all, I like to experiment with new items.  Some work… some don’t.  In my climate of north Mississippi, it should grow like a weed.  From what I understand, it is not bothered by disease or insects, which happen to be high on my list of favorable characteristics.  It is dual purpose in that when young the fruit are edible and have some decent nutrition.  When old, they become a sponge.  I imagine in a crisis, it could be valuable as food, personal hygiene & barter.

        But also sometimes I just like to grow things that show how amazing & diversified nature can be.  I’ve grown glass corn for the sheer beauty of the corn.  I grew this a few years back & mainly used them for fall decoration.

        Attachment-1

      • 1

        That is beautiful corn!

      • 2

        Hi, Liz. Thanks for the luck!

        I want to grow luffa to have some biodegradable sponges. My household isn’t very adventurous with food. Both sorrel and sunchokes were down-voted by my fiance, and most of the children that visit us get “kid food” (hotdogs, chicken fingers, etc.). The fiance is more likely to give a luffa scrubbing sponge a try than to eat luffa.

        I might try cooking them for myself but I’m mostly interested in the sponges.

      • 2

        I’m excited too.  In the Midwest, you probably would want to start your seeds indoors on a heat pad & grow lights.  Mine are nothing fancy & I got the pad & lights from Amazon.  The luffas need a long growing season so this will help you out a bunch.   Below is a pic of my setup that I’ve been using for my jujube that I’m starting from seed.  I put the tray outside yesterday as our temps are near 80 now.

        grow lights

      • 2

        We have jujubes in the produce store near me when in season.  How do you eat them or are they for another purpose?  Like luffahs.

      • 2

        You eat them two ways.  If you eat them once they first start to color up, they eat like a small, crisp apple.  If you let them mature on the tree, they shrivel up like a date.  Another name for jujube is Chinese date.

        And yes, like luffa, they are supposed to be trouble free.  No attacks from bacteria, fungus or insects.  I have around 150 apple trees and most are under continual attack and require multiple sprays each year.  Could be I replace my apples with jujube.  Time & testing will tell.

      • 2

        I can’t imagine them getting like a date because I think the ones I got  were picked early/green.  No sweetness but also not bitter.  I thought they were nature’s styrofoam.  I’ll try them again if I see them. 

      • 2

        My understanding is they need to redden up to be ready to eat.  Should look like this:

        all-freshmart-winter-dates-01-330x330

        And when allowed to fully mature, to the date stage, they look like this:

        date

      • 2

        Thanks Redneck!  They did look like the top photo.  Were fairly flavorless.  I live in SoCal so unsure where they came from and if they need humidity to really sweeten up, they either didn’t get it locally or were picked green to ship to me.  Tree ripened is always best.  I’ll try them again.

      • 2

        Hi, Redneck, thanks for the advice! This is my first year starting seedlings with a heat mat so I’m already getting more of a head start than last year. I put some luffa seeds into seedling trays this past weekend so hopefully they will come up.

    • 2

      Looks like so far we have three forum users that are going to try and plant luffas this next year. Everyone place your bets, and we’ll see who grows the best luffa later this year!

      • 2

        Haha! My bet is on Redneck. That Mississippi climate is going to make for some happy luffa plants.

      • 3

        Well, if they grow like their relative cucumber, then I don’t expect any problems.  One cucumber plant will feed us and all relatives.  Hardest part is finding them in those lush vines before they get too big, but that is not an issue with luffa.  You want some to get big.

        But I’m not competitive in the least.  I just enjoy the whole process from planning, to growing, to harvesting… and especially the eating.  I hope everyone has a bumper crop.