The original luffa sponge variety producing large fruits on vigorous climbing vines which can be dried for your own home grown sponges. Although slow to start, when established and with warm weather these are vigorous plants and can reach 20ft. Sturdy support is vital as the fruits are heavy and must be kept clear of the ground to prevent rotting.
· Soak seeds overnight before planting.
· Sow in warmth (65 degrees +) ½”- ¾” deep from 4 weeks prior to the last frost under cover. (18-22 days to germinate)
· Remove weaker seedlings, as they do not transplant well.
· When 3-4 inches high gradually acclimatise outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
· Site the plants in a warm sheltered position with good drainage, these will need full sun and warmth to thrive and sturdy support. (110 days from germination)
· Plant out at least 24”apart and avoid feeding or the crop will be reduced. They will start slow and when established and with warmer weather will quickly accelerate.
· Keep moist throughout the summer and stop watering in autumn as fruits mature.
· In autumn, mature gourds will begin to turn brown and dry turning yellow/brown, feel light with the outside skin loose.
· Harvest remaining fruit before the first frost and mature in a warm well-ventilated position.
· When fully dry the blossom end cap can be broken off, and a vascular
· bundle can be pulled up the side of the gourd like a zipper. The sponge will pop out and be very wet and white.
· Quickly rinse the sponge in water to prevent the plant juices from oxidizing on the sponge and remove the seeds at this time.
The sponges can be rinsed in a 10% bleach solution to whiten them.