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.
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