|Project by sharad||posted 01-31-2010 08:06 AM||4884 views||1 time favorited||21 comments|
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