Early in the spring of last year, we decided to once again try to grow loofahs. We have tried to grow them in the past, but the season was just not long enough. This time we planted the seeds in four-inch peat pots and started them under grow lights.They are easy to start from seed, and we soon had a flat full of lush loofahs. Trying not to get too excited — after all, we had been at this point before — we installed four cow panels into an arch. The baby loofahs were nestled in close to the arch as soon as the weather was warm enough and all danger of frost had passed. Well the days passed, warm wonderful days filled with sunshine. Warm rain fell on them, birds sang, and bees buzzed. The loofahs sat and sat and sat and not one new leaf. Nothing. Were we to be disappointed once again?
All of a sudden, the plants seemed to take off! We don't know if they overheard us discussing pulling them up and planting pole beans, or if that is just the common loofah behavior. Either way, they took off like crazy. If you watched, you could almost see them growing. They were vining skyward at an unbelievable rate.
Covering the arch
Soon the loofahs reached the top of the arch, but still they climbed up and over, went past the arch, and were grabbing the tomato cages. We tried looping them back over the arch. But loofahs are bold and wild; there is no telling them where to grow. They were the rebellious teenagers of the garden, not paying our ideas about what was best for them any attention. Like having teenagers, you just have to deal with them.
Wild tomato grabbing
Soon they were covered with bright yellow blooms and lots of bees. The bees loved the loofah blooms!
Lots of yellow loofah blooms
Then we noticed tiny loofahs that grew and grew; soon we had some very large loofahs. We were thrilled! We were able to get a large number of these wonderful gourds.
Lots of loofahs
We picked some green — they make a softer sponge. Most we picked after they had started to change color from green to a darker brown. Some we dried and will use in the shower. Others were cut into smaller pieces for dish washing. We also made gardeners soap out of some of them. They have really come in handy. We look forward to growing more of them next year.
Loofah sponges peeled, seeds removed, and washed