Some gardening endeavors take time, but the payoff is worth the wait when it comes to harvesting luffa (or loofah if you want to spell it phonetically). A few years ago, we ventured into growing this popular gourd and met with challenges along the way. But this week, 2 years later, we finally saw the results we’ve been waiting for.
A little backstory: We tried planting luffa a few ways; direct seeding didn’t pay off, starting seeds indoors worked at first, but then the plants died. It wasn’t until we planted a seedling (started indoors under grow lights) into our GreenStalk vertical garden system and fed it more often that the plant took hold.
It grew! Our plants were sending up flowers stalks and fruiting babies, but just not at the same time. We kept trying. Finally we got one pollinated gourd –yes, just one– and we nursed it along through the season. It grew…
This is a good time to mention that we live in a warm-winter climate where we don’t get a frost, so our vines didn’t die at the end of the season. The same vines have been going since 2018.
And after what seems like forever, finally it began to turn yellow and soften. Of course, we were so excited we didn’t photograph it before harvesting. We just started to peel the skin…
Some sources say that if you harvest too early the sponge can rot. If there are any black spots (not brown, black) then cut those parts off. We had no black spots so we felt confident going forward. Plus we found this website to support our theory.
Once the luffa is peeled, it’s time to remove the seeds.
There is a gummy sap surrounding the luffa flesh, a residue from the skin. Time to blast that off. We ran it under a strong stream of water in the sink, but also took it outside for a jet spray from the hose for good measure.
Now Dry It!
Set your luffa sponge in the sun to dry for a while. Ours was small so it dried in just a few hours. Larger sponges may take a day or two to dry completely. Keep it indoors in a sunny window if you have humid or rainy weather in the forecast.
We couldn’t be more proud of our one little luffa sponge. It took 3 years of trial and error but it finally paid off. It’s living proof that persistence is key when it comes to growing what you love. Keep going, Gardenerds!