Growing Luffa – It’s a Green Thing

Growing Luffa - It's a Green Thing

Spring is a busy time of year; we all pitch in to keep the farm moving forward.  This is when I put on my farm hat, begin sheering and lambing season in addition to garden and crop planting. This year our large crop will be Luffa.

We decided to scale back planting so we could test an idea.  My husband and I replanted our test field using buckets.

Before moving on I’m curious, “How many of you know what Luffa is?”  Let me explain, Luffa is an exfoliating sponge.  No it doesn’t grow in the ocean, it’s an annual plant that grows on a vine and has a 200 day growing season.

 

This plant needs a structure to grow up on, a fence would also work. Robert and my son Blake built this structure specifically so we could test grow Luffa on a small scale.

After researching this plant for months we decided it was a good fit for our climate and farm.The first season we learned a lot and decided to move forward by adding another structure in a half acre field; this was intense.

Learning

The first thing I learned in our second season was farming on a large scale is hard work.

Growing thousands of plants at one time and individually attaching each vine to the netting was more than I could handle.I spend most of my mornings from May- June attaching vines with string to netting.

Did I enjoy the process?  Not really it was overwhelming, felt like it would never end and it went faster when my husband was able to help.

We learned a lot that second year and decided we needed to change things.

We’re in our third season and we went back to our test field.  We had this idea to plant in buckets instead of directly in the ground.  Before purchasing thousands of buckets it was a smart idea to test this idea.

The point of the buckets was to decrease labor, this will keep us from having to till the ground and allow us to focus on each plant.

The root system on these plants is pretty compact and requires a lot of water, we’re hoping the buckets will help hold the moisture; this is why some of the buckets are under ground.

Things to Know Before Growing Luffa

  • You need a strong structure for them to grow on.
  • Annual with a 200 day growing season
  • Thrives in warm, humid wet climates, 70 – 100+ degree temperatures.
  • Transplanting is temperature tricky – We recommend direct seed only.
  • Soil must be well prepared before planting.
  • Plants will turn black after the first frost/freeze.
  • Luffa vines attract Fire Ants – this detours other bad bugs.
  • The Bees love it and every variety will arrive to pollinate.
  • This plant requires a lot of water.
  • Harvesting is intense with a large crop.
  • You replant from seed every year.
  • Luffa’s should grow hanging free to harvest nice healthy sponges.
  • Don’t press on Luffa when it’s growing – you’ll bruise the sponge.
  • Harvesting begins when the outer skin begins to turn brown or becomes light in weight.
  • You can eat Luffa in the early stages under 6 inches.

This was a little insight on how to grow Luffa, I’m looking forward to the small scale planting this season.  This experiment could change how we do things in the future which is always exciting.

I’ll keep you posted as things begin to move along and share more information about how to maintain, harvest, and use luffa sponges.

Growing Luffa Sponges- It's a Green Thing

 

19 comments

  1. monkey says:

    wow carole sounds like a lot of hard work,but also sounds like you enjoy it for the most part especially when hubby helps,also sounds like you are proud of your work as you should be xx chris

    1. I found in life all things great are a lot of work – but that's really what farming is. Thanks for stopping by! Carole

  2. craftyspices says:

    This post has been a learning thing for me as I had not idea what was Luffa not to mention how to grow it. Now thanks to you I have even googled it up and I today I have already learn my little 2 cent's for the day :). And one of the things I found out is that I knew what it was except I had no idea it was called luffa. It's great to have a passion and I can tell what is yours.
    Have a lovely day!!

    1. That's neat! It's an interesting plant to grow but Luffa itself feels wonderful when it's grown naturally. In my 40's with baby soft skin. Thanks for sharing and stopping by! Carole

  3. Tessa Zundel says:

    Thank you for sharing that! I have always wanted to grow these but when we moved to Utah (no way I'm getting a 200 day growing season!) I gave up on the idea. We're moving to Missouri now and I'm hopeful my climate will support their growth since its Southern Missouri to which we're headed. We'll see!
    Have I invited you to pin to my Children's Garden/Homesteading board yet? I'm totally pinning this article there but I see a lot of your posts that could be used to inspire the next generation of homesteaders, which is the goal of the board. If you're interested, here's a link; just follow the board and I can send you and invite! http://www.pinterest.com/homesteadlady/childrens-gardenshomesteading/

    1. Glad you enjoyed this post. Luffa is a tricky plant to grow but I can't imagine not having luffa in my home. I love it for more than exfoliating. I followed that board would love an invite. THanks for thinking of me and I'm glad you stopped by to share. -Carole

    2. Ma Kettle says:

      Luffa is a great skin exfoliator and more: use as a surface-safe, renewable scrubpad for washing dishes, sink, bathtubs, etc. Young luffas can be peeled and diced into soups or stirfries, too.

    3. Yep Luffa is Awesome! You should check out my Farm Website – http://www.NorthTexasLuffa.com
      -Carole

  4. This wonderful post is being featured on my blog today as part of "Tuesdays with a Twist" blog hop. If you get a chance, please stop by and grab a featured button: godsgrowinggarden.com
    Thanks
    Angie

    1. Well thank you – I'll go and get this linked up. 🙂 -Carole

  5. lisa lynn says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again today!

    1. Thanks Lisa – Today I posted about Roses on the Hop! Have a great Thursday! -Carole

  6. Carole seriously I'm learning so much my head is spinning so many ideas.

    Hugs,

    Valerie
    Cottage Making Mommy
    http://www.lovingmyheartandhome.blogspot.com

    1. I find learning to be a great thing. Glad you stopped to share. That's great – Luffa is a fun plant! -Carole

  7. so interesting! thank you for linking up this week to the garden party over here at Fishtail Cottage so I could learn about this plant…oxox, tracie

    1. Glad you liked it – This is a neat plant – it's almost close to trailing too! I'll do an update in a week or so. Thanks for stopping by to share! -Carole

  8. Eric says:

    Curious, I’m assuming you sell them? If so at farmers market, etsy, or other?

    1. Carole says:

      We have – I have a farm stand at our farm and I’ve also given them away to family and friends. With a good marketing plan and a large successful you could sell luffa through many resources.

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