Thursday, April 26, 2012

Loofah / Luffa

There are many exotic plants you can grow in a garden for eating, decoration or gift giving. One of the things we're going to grow in our tall greenhouse are loofah gourds. Yes, that hard scrubby thing you use for cleaning your back in the shower...it's a plant!

Loofah (or Luffa if you prefer) are a gourd that becomes fibrous around the shiny black seeds as the fruits mature. You have to provide support for the huge sprawling vines and a long warm growing season. Here in zone 5b we have the summer heat loved by these gourds, and the sunshine for drying them, but getting them started requires planning and a warm place for germination. Having the greenhouse will extend the growing season by weeks at each end and hopefully be enough to ripen some sponges so we can give them as gifts. The normal growing time for the vines is 200 days but we'll get them started indoors soon and then on a trellis in the greenhouse ASAP. It's something to try and if it fails, that's ok too. You never know until you give it a shot. I think I might train a couple of vines on the sunny warm side of the house too for an interesting conversation starter.

Peas are ready to go into the ground next week. While warm now, it's going to be -1c next week so I'm doing the fencing, digging and fertilizing this weekend and planting next week but only of my hardiest veggies. It's hard to be patient when there are so many lovely Spring days but it's important to wait for consistently warm weather. I'll get the prep work done once the ground dries out a bit and then have fun getting my hands dirty. Gotta run and get the kids off to school and then babysitting for a friend. Have a good day!

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