These vines are very vigorous and sprawling, often leaving no path uncovered by their large leaves, pretty yellow flowers and copious fruits which have culinary, medicinal and practical use. The delicious immature fruits are eaten for increased lactation, and increased bile flow, which will help process fats. The mature fruits, after dried, will provide you and your family with scrubbies that are strong enough to hold up against the hardest stir fry burn on your favorite saute’ pan. Use and use and use, until unusable, many times lasting longer than most other store bought sponges. Exfoliate in the shower!
I find that adding some ash in the fall to the planting sites makes great, strong vines.
Common name: Luffa
Botanical name: Luffa cylindrica
Type: Frost tender annual
Scarification/Stratification: Soak seed in hot (120F)water with a bit of liquid kelp.
Sow temp/season: 75-85 F soil temperature, Sow warm only in spring
Sow depth/spacing: 3/4-1 inch deep, sow three per hill or site.
Final spacing: Space three to six feet apart along a strong trellis, fence or arbor.
Final height/spread: These will grow as big or as tall as you let them.
pH range: 6.0-8.0
Soil type: Will tolerate most soils.
Nutrition: Likes mature compost, ash, and kelp. Not heavy feeder but it is good to fertilize a very mild all purpose liquid fertilizer every week after established, three feet around the crown of each plant.
Drainage: As long as soil can hold air, will tolerate wet feet as long as crown isn’t under water.
Sun: Lots and lots of sun, if that’s not possible, will mature with 6 hours of sun! (just smaller)
Time to maturity: 140 days until first fruit matures.
Hilling: No. Keep crown dry.
Suckering: No soil suckering, and no rooting along vines. But will branch profusely if given space to sprawl.
Propagation: Start seed indoors four weeks before last frost date in 4 inch peat pots FILLED with very airy mix, then plant out two weeks after last frost date plant container exposing one inch of pot above soil line.
Hybridization: Plant different varieties 1/4 mile away from each other to keep strains true.
Uses: Eat small fruits and use dried mature fruits as sponges.