Spring is a busy time of year ad we all do our best to pitch in to keep the farm moving forward.
Things like sheep sheering, lambing season in addition to garden and crop planting all come full circle.
This year our large crop will be Luffa and we decided to scale back planting so we could test an idea using buckets.
Luffa is an exfoliating sponge, it’s an annual plant that grows on a vine and has a 200 day growing season.
What you’ll need to begin
This plant needs a sturdy structure because the pods are heavy and grow on a vine. Use a sturdy fence or build something like we did 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 because we do have a rather long growing season. The first year we learned a lot and decided to move forward by adding another structure in a half acre field; this was intense.
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 spent most of my mornings from May- June attaching vines with string to netting and it wasn’t fun.
It was really overwhelming and felt like it would never end. It definitely 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.
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 so we’re hoping the buckets will help hold the moisture; this is why some are under ground.
Get our growing experience in this fun add free article in our shop. It comes with a worksheet so you can plan your crop according to the size of crop you hope to grow.
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.
It will be interesting to see how this test crop turns, this experiment could change how we do things in the future or if we even decide to keep growing this crop.
I’ll keep you posted as things begin to move along and share more information about how to maintain, harvest, and use luffa sponges.