Luffa vines grow really well here in Sub Tropical Queensland but they can be grown all around Australia. Last year I poked six seeds into the soil to produce enough sponges for our home for a year, plus a few extra. I use a luffa in the shower to scrub my skin, I also use a luffa as a kitchen sponge – I just cut them down to the size I am after. We now even have a luffa down in the veggie garden so you can wash off the sticky clay off your skin when you are done.
They are effortless to grow when the rainy season is here and tend to look after themselves. The only thing you need to be concerned about is the seeds falling on to the ground. Luffa can turn into a weed, so keep check on harvesting and seed collection is very important.
Next year I am going to grow some more to make into presents for people.
WHEN TO PLANT:
Tropical & Subtropical Climate – August –January
Temperate & Cool Climate – September – November* After last frosts
Arid Climate : August – September* After last frosts
PLANTING: Luffas love rich soil with organic matter and prefer full sun, the soil needs to be at least 20’c to germinate seeds. I start them in seed trays in a warm place and then nurture the seedlings for a few weeks before planting out into the soil. In frost areas it is best to cover your plants with plastic bottles for protection until they become large enough and the frosts are over.
I plant my luffas along a strong built trellis as they can grow up to ten meters long. My trellis is six meters long and two meters tall. I have six plants on the trellis and that is ample for producing plenty of luffa for a year. Growing them on the ground will produce bent luffa’s and they will also be harder to dry especially in the wetter months.
WATER: Water regularly.
PESTS & FERTILIZER: Fertilize with a nitrogen rich liquid fertilizer or worm tea every four weeks.
Sprinkle over potash and phosphorous when the luffa has started to flower to encourage growth. Most insects that hang around the luffa are pollinating your flowers.
COMPANION PLANTS: Beans, peas, onions and corn.
WHEN TO HARVEST: You can eat the young luffa’s they are similar to a gourd. However I harvest mine when the luffa has gone brown and dried completely. They are easy to pick as the stems have also usually dried.
At this point I peel and shake out all the seeds from the pod. I then leave the peeled luffa in the sun to dry out some more which also bleaches it a little. About seven days or so will be fine. I am not so fussy about having the perfect luffa so I tend to use mine straight after picking. You can cut them to size or leave whole.
NOTES: Luffa can be a weed and take over a garden. Please discard any extra seeds you have or next growing season you may have 1000 luffa plants germinating in your garden. I tend to shake out my seeds into a sieve and keep some for the following year and to share with friends.