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27 June 2007

Harvesting loofahs

Generally one loofah harvest will keep you going all year.


I harvested most of the loofahs this morning. I have about 18 of them, both dry and green. I clipped off some of the green ones because we've had a lot of rain lately and some were starting to look like they'd go mouldy. They will dry out under the shelter of the back verandah. There are nine green loofahs still on the vine.

If you don't know about loofahs, they're used for washing yourself in the shower, or cut up smaller and used for washing dishes. They have excellent exfoliating properties, so they keep your skin looking and feeling good, they're 100% natural, biodegradable and renewable.

I'll keep a few of these I picked today for using through the year. Some of them I'll cut into small pieces
and pour hot homemade soap into them. When they dry and harden, they make an excellent gift. The smaller ones will be used in the kitchen.
This is a loofah with the skin partially pealed off.
Loofahs are a distant cousin of the cucumber and although they like warm weather, they will grow in cooler weather. Two vines will cover quite a large area and would be enough to produce about 40 or 50 loofahs. They like to climb, so you'd need a trellis or fence to grow them well.

You can pick loofahs
when they are green or brown. If they're still green they'll feel heavy and full, as they dry they lose their bulkiness and will weigh only a gram or two. They'll be ready to peel when they turn brown, are light in weight and you can peel the crisp skin off. When you have all your loofahs peeled and all the seeds out, soak all of them in a bucket of water with a tablespoon of liquid bleach added. This will kill off any mould spores that might be lurking. When they've soaked for a couple of hours, rinse them all, and dry in the sun. When they're dry they're ready to use or store.
These are the seeds from one loofah.
As you can see by this last photo, each loofah produces quite a few seeds. I'm happy to send out seeds to anyone who wants them, but I can't afford the postage. If you'd like some seeds, send me a stamped self-addressed envelope, I'll send some loofah seeds and maybe some madagascar bean seeds or rosella seeds. It's all free, you just have to pay your own postage. Send me an email and I'll send you my postal address.  PLEASE NOTE, I have no seeds left.

These are madagascar bean seeds. They're a traditional permaculture plant. Two seeds will grow a wall of beans that can be shelled and stored in the cupboard as dried beans.

30 comments:

  1. no comments yet so i wanted to post one! i just found your blog and i wanted to tell you that i love it! and how interesting about the loofahs-i had never known that they were actually something you could grow and harvest from your backyard! thanks for the new fact! how great! your blog is wonderful!

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  2. Hi Rhonda, love the loofah info, I would love some seeds I think I sent you a self addressed envelope awhile ago so if there is any left I would love some.( Im from the ALS web site). The pics are great now I know what to look for as they are ripening and getting ready to be dried. Neisha

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  3. Hi Rhonda,
    Would loofahs grow in Melbourne? Where does one buy seeds?
    Thanks.

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  4. Such an interesting article Rhonda! I would like to take you up on your offer of seeds but I can't find an email address anywhere on the site? In my defence (if it's staring me in the face)I AM having a bad day :-).

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  5. welcome simply authentic! thank you for your kind words. I hope you find some helpful info here.

    Neisha: did I send you anything back? I'm sorry if I didn't. I thought I sent you some rosella seeds and something else, but I receive and send off so many things, I can never keep track. Email me your address and I'll send you off some seeds.

    Kate: you'll need a warm spot and you'll have to wait till Spring to plant, but yes, they should grow. Send me an email and I'll give you my postal address, then you can send me a stamped self-addressed envelope and I'll send some back to you.

    Susan, thank you. It was in my profile which I think was a bit hard to find. Email me at: rhonda_hetzel@yahoo.com.au for my address and I'll put some aside for you.

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  6. Hi Rhonda its Rhonda here. Thankyou for sharing these photos I have loofah seeds but was not sure how to treat them upon harvest so now I know I will be planting them when the time is right.
    Big Hug

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  7. I was thinking about planting these this year. But with other plans going on didn't want to add new things to the garden this year.

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  8. Wow, I too was considering planting loofahs. This year I planted my first garden ever, and the loofahs just didn't happen, but they are on the list for next spring. Thanks for the interesting post & pictures!

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  9. Harvesting loofahs!! Who ever thought of such a thing! The only thing that compares here is the wild teazle which you can use to brush wool with.

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  10. I am even further south than Kate so i don't know if loofahs are a possibility here. By coincidence I was just looking through the latest Organic Gardening mag and Linda Cockburn has an article on loofahs as well.

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  11. Is Linda growing them in Tasmania, Jenny? If she is, I'd be happy to send you some seeds for you to experiment.

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  12. Wow i didnt know where loofahs come from or that you could grow them !!!!! Rhonda i wonder if you can send them thru the post over to west aussie ?? just wonder if there is any regulations for seeds over the border....Must say i love your blog and i come everyday to see what you have been up to..

    Cheers
    Robin( Perth)

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  13. thanks for your interesting blog.I look forward to reading it daily. I never knew loofahs could be grown either and I would love some seeds please if there are any spare ~ Ali (jasali ALS)

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  14. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm not sure where you are and I'm a bit of a gardening novice. We're in rural SA and have both frosts and fairly warm summers. Do you think I could grow one of these loofah plants?

    If you have any seeds left and think it might be worth a try, could you please email me your address to hanners@activ8.net.au .

    Thank you so much.

    Jodi

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  15. I just joined the blog and found you, I was reading some stuff and found this. I so did not know that loofas were grown. I live in MN USA, do you think we can grow them here? Maybe start them in the house and bring them outside? I can't email you for some reason, but if you can email me with your address and info, I will send you the s&h
    just_me_kristinb@yahoo.com

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  16. Hello from KY. I grew loofahs for the first time this year and didn't know how to harvest them. Boy did your site help me. GREAT-Thanks so much. Whats the deal with the hot homemade soup? Well if you have any other seeds I would love them. Again thanks

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  17. I see you noted you're out of seeds, and people ask where to get them. Well, it took me a long time to find them but I found that non-chain garden centers often have the more 'rare' seeds. In Baltimore County, MD I found loofah seeds at Watson's Garden Center. Using google to search for garden centers in your area may yield such a place in yours. Also, there are bulk seed distributors in any area with farming, and although they may have gigantic bags or not sell to the public, they have many resources and a polite employee likely can help you find a distributor with smaller quantities or other local outlets. They know you won't be buying their 100 pound sacks of seed so they have nothing to lose by referring you to a place to buy a packet of a few ounces.

    Also, if you prefer, try a craiglist local search (or post a 'Wanted' ad)or even an ebay search... I've always offered free seeds from all of my backyard produce to anyone in the area wishing to pick them up or send postage!

    Hope this is of value to you... growing "Luffa" gives most of us a great feeling deep inside. It's just so cool to see those giant green oblongs hanging from your trellis... and often weighing so much the trellis needs midseason bracing!

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  18. I just want to let you know that I was able to grow 3 loofahs this year & your site was extremly helpful! Thanks so much for sharing such great information!

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  19. If you are near Savannah GA, there is a soap store that sells the seeds (at least they did when I was last there). My husband grew 3 plants in NE PA and picked about 30 loofahs from them this fall, but we are having a hard time drying them. How do you get the seeds out?

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  20. hi i would love some seeds, i love gardening i love plants, and this one i been looking for a long time, i want it because it reminds me of my grandmother who used to love planting the " estropajo " thats what a loofah is called in mexico. so please if any one has any seeds plesase give me one. my e-mail is

    ( karla.montes2010@yahoo.com )


    please if any one has some seeds i would love to get some. thank you.

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  21. Hi Rhonda (or anyone else),
    I recently bought a loofah from Egypt (I'm in London now) but I forgot to take it out of its wrapping for a week and it's grown moldy, can this be cleaned or should I just chuck it out? Cheers, Mary

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  22. I have grown 2 luffa vines for the first time this year. I have a couple left to harvest, the begining of the vines look dead but the ends have got a spurt on and have lots of new babies. What do I do? Do I pull them out and plant new ones now? I live on the mid North Coast of NSW.

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  23. i've been wanting to grow loofahs to replace those horrible sponge/scourer things in the kitchen and today i finally remembered to google loofah seeds ... found your article which is brilliant! now i'm off to read some more of your blog, thanks.

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  24. thank u for the pictures at diffrent stages i need a visual know what i mean ha needed all the help i could get the pictures were the most help though thanks again

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  25. Hi Rhonda, I have only just discovered this post. I have just x1 vine growing with flowers but no fruit, should I have grown more than x1 plant do you think? Any idea if I will still stand a chance of fruit this year. We are in sunny Northland here in NZ so it's pretty warm still and probably will be for another month or so. Would really appreciate if you could give me any help, thanks Bridget

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  26. Hi Bridget, I don't think you'll get loofahs this year, but don't rip them out. Give them a go and they might surprise both of us. They should be planted out as seedlings well before Christmas.

    We planted ours late this year and currently have small loofahs and flowers, however, we're in the subtopics and our warm weather will go on for another month. Still, I think we'll only get 6 - 8 good loofahs.

    It's best to plant more than one of all flowering plants. You're more likely to get pollination and healthy fruit.

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  27. My loofah's produced white seeds. Why is that? Those I see online are black. Also, my loofah's had a thicker skin on all stages I picked. None, but one, were easy to peel. Some came off better then others, but none just peeled off.

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    Replies
    1. amy, you must have a different variety of loofah to those we grow here.

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  28. Hi Rhonda,

    I know that you made this post a few years ago, just wondering if you're still growing loofas? Do you have some seeds or a spare dry loofa? I'm keen to try it out. I'm based in metropolitan SA. Thanks, jess. :)

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  29. I just read your page on the loofas and I didn't know you could eat them. You use them in soups? I am on Face Book as Wendy G. Whitcomb. Thank you as this is my first time growing them.

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