Every year I try to grow something "different" in the garden. This year I tried my hand at growing Luffa...and I am in LOVE!
Luffa are technically gourds and can be eaten while young and tender. They say they taste like squash. I'm not in them for the food value, I want them for scrubbing. Scrubbing dishes, cars, people, anything that cannot tolerate steel wool. I also hope to include them in some handmade Christmas gifts this year.
Growing luffa is really easy but you must have two things, a long growing season and support. I planted two seeds underneath a huge trellis that Kyle built for me. They outgrew the trellis in a week and have now taken over the side of my house! One thing that just happened to work out beautifully was planting sunflower seeds next to them. As the mammoth sunflowers grew to the height of the roof, the luffa vines were just getting started. By the time the sunflowers had thick, sturdy stalks the luffa found them and grew right to the top.
Now the sunflower is spent, head harvested for seeds, and the stalk remains a strong support for the new luffa growing. Yeah, it looks like crap on the side of the house, but up close it's beautifully awesome!
They've even taken over my bathroom window. But with at least six more growing in that spot, I'm not taking the vines down any time soon!
I recommend drying the luffa right on the vine. The green skin becomes a dried up brown color and if you shake the fruit you can hear the seeds rattle inside. Once thoroughly dried, they were very easy to peel.
Our luffas are super soft and smell like freshly mown hay. I know that we will be growing these for many seasons to come.