Luffa acutangula Louffah Louffah Louffah
Soil : good, humus-rich soil.
Position : full sun
Frost tolerant : No. Luffa is a hot weather plant and growth slows in cool weather.
Sow and Plant : northerners would be well advised to start their plants indoors in February or March. To do so, first soak the seeds overnight for faster germination, then plant two or three per peat pot. Thin out all but the strongest seedling in each container before the small vines become large enough to strangle each other, and set them out after you’re sure of warm weather .
Rather than let the vine sprawl aimlessly, grow the gourds on upright supports—or place flat rocks under the developing gourds to keep them off the ground—and your yield will be greater.Like many plants, the luffa likes to be pinched back, so cut off the tips of the vines when the tendrils reach ten feet in length. This action should encourage the development of the side branches upon which the gourds will develop. The side shoots themselves can then be pinched back to promote even greater bushiness and higher yields. (It’s also a good idea to pick off the first flowers, and any new gourds that are deformed or unhealthy.)
Harvesting :When the gourds are gherkin-sized they can be added, raw, to salads or cut up in soup like okra. But the real gastronomic utility of this vegetable lies in its ability to substitute for squash or zucchini, or for eggplant in parmigiana. And one especially hearty recipe—adapted from a traditional dish using green peppers—is for stuffed luffa.
However, should your area’s growing season turn out to be too short to enable the sponges to dry on the vine, and if you don’t have room to let them « age » in your house, you can simmer green luffas until they’re tender (or pressure-cook them for 10 minutes at 10 pounds’ pressure). When the gourds have cooled, simply unzip the peelings by pulling the « strings » in the skins’ ridges … then swish the sponges around in a bucket of water to remove the seeds.
Time to harvest: days