Luffah Gourd (luffa aegyptiaca) 30 seeds
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Nothing makes us happier than a full chain link fence of Luffah plant! Luffah (also spelled loofah and luffa) is a relative of the squash, cucumber and pumpkin, as is indicative by its flower, leaf shape and fruit shape and it shares many aspects with its more common cousins. If harvested small (zucchini size) the fruit is edible, and the flowers and vine tips are edible too. If harvesting the flowers beware of the luffahs most common pollinator, the ant!
When people first come in contact with a whole loofah at our farmers market stand, and realize what it is they without fail admit that they always thought as the Luffah being sold as an exfoliator in the store as a "sea creature". Indeed, thats a logical thing to assume if you've never seen them growing on the vine, dangling as fresh green gourds... but the fact that the Luffah is in fact just a dried out gourd makes it way cooler than a sea creature, since it means you can grow your own sponges without harming anything that would rather be living happily in the ocean.
One loofah vine is likely to produce about a dozen mature Luffah in one season, as its a fast growing and hardy vine. We have a number of them planted on our perimeter fence and can harvest up to 75 Luffah per season... at 12$ per Luffah sold retail thats a fun and profitable crop for us! Not only does it mean we can cut plastic sponges out of our homes and the homes of our market customers, it also means we can produce flowers for chefs, small fruit for eating, and seeds for saving and spreading. Once you've harvested your vine dried Luffah just peel its thin outer layer of brown dried wrapping off of the fibrous inside and you've got a Luffah sponge. Bang your Luffah against a tabletop a few times and all of the seeds inside will shake out (save them for next year!). Cut your Luffah into a few round pieces with a serrated knife and its ready to replace your sponge in the kitchen and your exfoliator in the shower.
If you're considering planting Luffah in your home garden beware its size and voracity. This is no cucumber sized vine... consider planting your Luffah along a fence or on a pergola, and not in an annual vegetable garden bed! We've seen more than one Miami gardener with incredibly impressive Luffah vines covering entire pergolas, dripping with heavy fruit, making quite the visual impression on passersby and visitors! A quick google image search will leave you craving a Luffah pergola or Luffah arbor of your own!