For two seasons my husband and I grew Luffa sponges on a large scale and I have to admit it was a lot of work. After running into water supply issues we decided to table our future plans and now we grow this plant on a small scale for fun.
Natural sponges are fantastic and knowing when to harvest is really important. You never want to harvest a luffa when it’s green because it won’t be ready, it will be mushy like an over ripe cucumber.
When the sponge is green like the ones on these vines they’re still still forming fibers.
You wait until they turn almost yellowish brown, this ensures a soft sponge that’s easy to peel and remember you have to peel it right away.
Peel Luffa like a Banana
After you clip a ripe luffa from the vine take it to a clean table and begin the cleaning process. If you harvest a sponge when they’re moist the shell comes right off with little effort; you can easily compost the skin so there’s no waste.
- Cut off the bottom and top ends before shaking out loose seeds.
- Releasing the sponge is like peeling a banana.
- After the peel is removed wash the sponge in clean water releasing any additional seeds.
- Place on a plate or tray to air dry in the sun. This may take 12 hours or less depending on temperature.
- After the Luffa is dry go ahead and shake out additional seeds and now you have a new shower sponge.
These sponges are wonderful for exfoliation.
The seeds can be used for the following growing season, expect to get about 75 – 100 seeds per large sponge.
Harvesting a few luffa at a time is no big deal, but imagine hundreds, let’s just say that takes some time and that’s a lot of seeds.
Luffa can be used for more than just exfoliation. We replaced all our synthetic sponges by growing our own luffa. My favorite household options included cleaning the bathroom tub and sinks and they’re wonderful for washing dishes.
Once the sponge has expired it can be recycled back into the soil. I luffa as a no waste product but the entire process can be worked back into the ground to help improve the soil. It’s a win, win for gardeners with a 200 day growing season.
If you’re interested in growing luffa remember it loves hot humid climates. To get my complete luffa growing instructions click here.
Luffa Growing in Oklahoma
Reader Steve from Oklahoma started luffa in Hay bales, looks like he’s going to have an awesome harvest this fall (2017). Check out all those amazing vines, when they turn after the first freeze they can be used for wreath projects.