GardenTenders

Luffa or Smooth Gourd

  • Advertise with us
Project by sharad posted 1640 days ago 3831 views 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The season has started changing now and the climate is getting warmer. This was reflected in my getting the first harvest of smooth gourd also known as spong gourd, dish-rag gourd, or luffa. Luffa cylindrica and Luffa acutangula are members of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family and are related to cucumber, muskmelons, and squash. The Luffa is not well known in the vegetable community and has very minor acreage in California, but the unique nature of the fruits, which are used both for food and industrial purposes, prompts interest in the plants. Chinese okra, Luffa acutangula, is a food crop that is grown for its immature fruit. Luffa cylindrica, sponge gourd, is grown principally for sponge production as the name implies. Both species reportedly originated in India. It is a tropical running vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers.Both male- and female flowers are on the same plant and are pollinated by bees.The fruits are smooth and cylindrical shaped with white flesh. Length varies from 12 to 15 inches The young fruit is used as a cooked vegetable. The ripe, dried fruit is also the source of the luffa or plant sponge. These natural sponge of the vegetable world have many uses. They’ll make your skin squeaky clean or shine up your dirty dishes. Luffa are soft and edible when young and can be cooked and eaten like squash or okra. They turn into a tough mass of fiber when mature The fruit and the leaves both have medicinal properties. Propagation is done by seeds and requires full sun and good draining soil. It is cold sensitive and should be grown during warm season. Hardiness USDA zone 7-11 The seeds are black and should be soaked overnight before sowing.
A popular recipe of the fruit is posted in the recipe forum.
The last picture shows a very attaractive variety of Hibiscus that is in bloom now in my terrace garden.

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein



View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

Project tags/keywords

vegetable perennial smooth gourd terrace

Embed This Project

GardenTenders Code

HTML Code

URL/IMG Code

Preview this project card


21 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14673 posts in 2573 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 1640 days ago

this is wonderful.
I tried growing some last year but I don’t think I started them soon enough and they didn’t mature – or I put them in the wrong location. I’m trying again this year.

I am so envious of your season!! The hibiscus is gorgeous.

Thank Sharad.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View IceFlower's profile

IceFlower

156 posts in 1647 days
hardiness zone 9b

posted 1640 days ago

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at them Sharad. What type of soil? Loamy? I’ve been going through seed catalogs in last few weeks and seen the seed, maybe I will try them this year. I’ve used them forever for body cleansing sponges. Much cheaper to grow my own. Thank you for the insightful post :)
Alynxia

-- Alynxia**** It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. 'The Buddha'****

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1835 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 1640 days ago

Sharad, thank you for the interesting post and great photos. I want to try growing these too! I have already bought my seeds for the year, but if I see some seeds at the Farmers Exchange next time I go, I will try them out!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Catspaw's profile

Catspaw

244 posts in 2369 days

posted 1640 days ago

It has been recommended that the seeds be scratched first, then soaked for a short time before planting.

When doing sponges, allow to dry completely (seeds can be heard rattling around.) Soak in water and wash off the paper thin skin. Shake out seeds. Bleaching can be done with Hydrogen Peroxide to normalize color.

A trellis is highly recommended. I’ve never seen them climb by themselves, so they need to be helped up the trellis and gently hung, wrapped, or tied off. They get heavy.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist......Zone out....(USA 5)

View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 1640 days ago

Catspaw your instructions are correct and important. The seeds however need not be scratched. Soaking overnight is more than enough. Scratching is used for some very tough seeds.
Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2353 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 1640 days ago

Thanks for this blog on the luffa Sharad.I have always wondered about them.I have grown lots of other types of gourds over the years but not this one.Very interesting to know that the young ones can be eaten.The pictures are great thanks.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View mmh's profile

mmh

332 posts in 2101 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 1639 days ago

They are quite tasty when young and saute’ed or put in a simple chicken broth. YUM!

-- A weed is a plant that is growing where it was not purposefully placed by human hands.

View XploreOrganics's profile

XploreOrganics

1393 posts in 2451 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 1639 days ago

Fantastic, I may try these if I have time next year. Any space saving tips? I’m getting limited in my garden space but would love to also grow some organic washing sponges as well as food. And the hibiscus is stunning, do you make tea?

-- Xploreorganics, 5b Canada, LFD 06-20 http://colorfulcanary.blogspot.com/

View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 1639 days ago

XploreOrganics I have never made hibiscus tea. Can you tell how to make it? Do try to grow this gourd. It is easy but needs supports for the vine to climb. I think you have enough space for this plant.
Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View jroot's profile (online now)

jroot

5047 posts in 2203 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 1639 days ago

Yes, X, how do you make hibiscus tea? Does one merely steep the flowers? I have quite a few hibiscus plants here that bloom profusely. How would one compare the taste?

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View XploreOrganics's profile

XploreOrganics

1393 posts in 2451 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 1639 days ago

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) tea can be served hot or as an ice tea and is made from fresh or dried petals or “calyx” of the flower. There are many different recipes.

Pick and dry petals in a basket for a few days.

The taste is like a cranberry rubarb-ish taste, but is best used for the beautiful color and medicinal properties.

A simple method to make the brew is to pour one cup of boiling water over 1-2 table spoons of dried petals, cover and strain after 5-10 minutes and sweeten to taste. Add honey, lemon or orange slices, even mint, ginger or pineapple if you like and ice cubes for ice tea . Hibiscus can be mixed with regular tea also.

Here are some articles on the health benefits of Hibiscus tea:

Studies show that drinking hibiscus tea can effectively lower high blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol levels. February 1, 2009 issue of Internal Medicine News.

More on the plant and medicinal properties here: http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Hibiscus+sabdariffa

Some hibiscus tea recipes: http://fieldtofeast.blogspot.com/2007/01/make-hibiscus-tea-then-vote-for-me.html

-- Xploreorganics, 5b Canada, LFD 06-20 http://colorfulcanary.blogspot.com/

View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 1639 days ago

Thank u XO for the information on the Hibiscus tea. I will try it soon.
Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View jroot's profile (online now)

jroot

5047 posts in 2203 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 1639 days ago

Thanks, X for the information above. I will go and pick some flowers today from my hibiscus blooming its head off inside.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 1634 days ago

jroot do you have Hibiscus sabdariffa variety in your garden? It is only from this that the tea can be made and this is not akin to the Hibiscus flowers that we have, it looks. Pl be sure before you make tea.
Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View jroot's profile (online now)

jroot

5047 posts in 2203 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 1633 days ago

Thanks for the warning, Sharad. I had not noticed that small detail.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View jroot's profile (online now)

jroot

5047 posts in 2203 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 808 days ago

My smooth gourd seedlings, which I most kindly received from Sharad, are growing well. I have to get them into the soil as soon as all danger of frost is over, and then they should really take off. Maybe I should put them in now anyway, and protect them if it freezes, or maybe I should wait until the end of the month. It is now only May 11th. Any thoughts on that, Sharad?

Also, you say that the fruit should be eaten when young. How do you define young? Would they still be classified as young at two month from germination, or three months? I am just not sure.

JR

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 808 days ago

Jroot, I am glad that the smooth gourd is doing well. If there is danger of frost it is better to wait or if you have a few seedlings put some of them into soil and let others wait till the end of month. Once they start flowering and start getting fruit you should keep a watch on how they are growing. They grow quite fast and once their growth has stopped wait for a couple of days and then harvest them. You will know from experience when they are ready to eat. They will look fresh and green without any tint of yellow.If you want to keep them for making Luffa allow them to mature fully till they become dry. The first few flowers may drop if pollination has taken place. It is better to cover the fruit when it is tender with net bag to avoid any flies laying eggs in the tender fruit which may spoil the fruit. This is what is true for our tropical weather. Conditions may be different in your region. Pl keep me posted about the development and be free to ask any questions.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Abhishek's profile

Abhishek

13 posts in 798 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 798 days ago

Thanks for this post Sharad, this is really helpful. Here in NJ the Luffa cylindrica is easily available but not Luffa acutangula. I have a small backyard here and will try to grow these. I have ordered “Harita Gourd” from the following site http://www.luffaseeds.com/seeds.html; I hope this is the Indian Tori.

Based on your article I’ll soak the seeds overnight and then sow them indoors, once the seedlings are ready will sow these in the backyard.

I am new to kitchen gardening, do let me know if there are any obvious things to take care of. Do these plants require specifically rich soil?

I’ll keep you posted, thanks for the informative post.

View sharad's profile

sharad

1620 posts in 1790 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 798 days ago

Abhishek welcome to GT and thanks for your comment. This vine does not need any special soil. Let your seeds germinate and become ready to plant outside. When you post the developments I can help you if necessary. Hope to see more from your kitchen garden.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Abhishek's profile

Abhishek

13 posts in 798 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 790 days ago

Sharad, while I still wait for my Tori seeds to arrive, today I saw “Tinda” in one of the Indian stores, these were ripe and hard I still bought these. While cutting the vegetable, one of these had full ripe black seeds. The seeds are quite hard as well, like those of watermelon, but jet black.

Now I am planning to sow these, do you have any suggestions on how to sow these? I’ll soak these seeds overnight. Should I dry these seeds before soaking?

Any other suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,
Abhishek

View Abhishek's profile

Abhishek

13 posts in 798 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 494 days ago

Last season I received the seeds and was able to grow the luffa, along with it had a real success with lokey (ghiya)...

thanks

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: All views and comments posted by members are not necessarily those of GardenTenders.com or of those working on the site.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

LumberJocks.com :: woodworking showcase

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com