Grow Loofah Cucumber: Luffa From Your Own Garden

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:24 pm

Our garden offers a lot of space for growing experiments of various fruits and vegetables. After learning that the loofah cucumber can grow and thrive here in our latitudes, I was eager to try it out for myself and grow a loofah cucumber in our garden. The loofah cucumber is also known as the sponge gourd or sponge cucumber or Luffa aegyptica or Luffa cylindrica. It belongs to the gourd family and is mainly cultivated in the tropics. It is cultivated in Egypt, Korea, China, Guatemala, Colombia or Paraguay. As a result, the loofah often has a long journey behind it when it can be bought in European stores.

The plants are – similar to the native snake cucumber – climbers and can grow up to 15 meters long, depending on where they are grown. The flowers of the loofah cucumber are also reminiscent of those of the snake cucumber. The small, unripe fruits of the sponge cucumber are eaten as a vegetable in Asia, as in our country, for example, zucchini.

Grow Loofah Cucumber: Luffa From Your Own Garden

Growing Luffa Cucumber: Our luffa cucumber cultivation in our own garden.
The sponge cucumber can also thrive in Europe. It just doesn’t grow as big as it does in hot, tropical regions. We bought organic loofah seeds and started growing them in early spring.

When should you grow the loofah cucumber?

Similar to regular cucumbers, loofah cucumbers should be preplanted in March at home under a growing tray. We have had good experience soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. The germination rate was very good. Between 20 and 25 °C should be the temperature. The soil must be kept moist, but not wet.

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With the appearance of the second pair of leaves, the plants are pricked and transferred to small pots. After the Ice Saints in May, we put our plants – now already large – in the open ground. We placed one plant on prepared straw bales and one in a small raised bed. A sturdy climbing support is recommended.

How does the loofah cucumber grow best?

The plant loves warmth and sun as well as nutritious soil. It needs a lot of water. We treated our loofah cucumbers like our regular cucumbers in terms of watering, location and fertilizing. The plants feel most comfortable in a greenhouse. But even without a greenhouse, in a sheltered and warm location, they have developed beautifully in our house.

When are the fruits ripe?

It takes 150 to 200 days for the yellow flowers to turn into the ripe fruits that can be harvested. When the loofah cucumber is ripe, the skin is yellow and brittle and covered with small brown dots. When tapping on the shell of the cucumber, it should sound hollow and dull. Now you are ready to harvest the cucumber. Put them to dry in a dry, sunny place.

Grow loofah cucumber and harvest loofah fruit.

After a few days of drying, we peeled the fruit. You can cut off the stem and flower base with scissors. After peeling, you can shake out the seeds. Gently kneading them will loosen them even better. Set the seeds aside as seed for next year. Wash the pulp and let it dry in the sun. Ready is the loofah from the garden. Now simply cut off slices. Each loofah is a miracle of nature and clearly better than a plastic sponge.

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The loofah – an environmentally friendly multi-talent.

The finished loofah sponges can be used as exfoliating, shower and bath sponges, but also as cleaning sponges in the kitchen for pots and surfaces. In a project in Paraguay, loofah sponges have already been used for insulation as well as for house and furniture construction. As a shoe sole, animal toy or filter material, the sponge gourd can also score points.

When dry, the loofah is rigid and hard, when you moisten it becomes soft. You can use it with, but also without cleaning products in the kitchen. The loofah sponge is a purely natural sponge. It does not release microplastics and can be easily disposed of in the compost after a long period of use. Packaging material is superfluous, especially if it comes from your own garden. You can often purchase whole, peeled cucumbers in stores. From them you can cut slices of the desired thickness.

Grow loofah cucumber: Sponges useful gift

Acquaintances who visited our garden during the summer were amazed when I told them about my plan. No one could really imagine the idea of growing loofahs from their own garden. But by Christmas at the latest, all relatives and acquaintances could see, feel and hold the result in their hands. Without further ado, we gave everyone a sponge we had grown ourselves. A small “instruction leaflet” described how to use, clean and dispose of the sponge.

Luffa cucumber: tips and suggestions

Give the gift of loofah fruit- whether homegrown or purchased. Many do not know about this environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic sponge. A beautiful letter and homemade soap transform the gift into a unique item. Hang a few more seeds in a homemade seed bag for the garden owners to grow themselves along with the gift.
With store-bought loofah sponges, make sure they have not been chemically bleached. This unnecessarily pollutes the environment.
A slice of loofah sponge is suitable as a soap base in the bathroom. It absorbs the soapy water well. The soap can dry and does not stick as strongly as is often the case with a conventional soap dish.
The loofah sponge can be washed in the washing machine at 30 °C or with boiled hot water. It is best to use a laundry net for washing. A mixture of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water also cleans the sponge hygienically.

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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