Monday, June 25, 2007

Who Knew You Could Grow Your Own Luffa Sponges?

I didn't. Till I read about it somewhere. So this year I was thrilled to see seeds for luffa at Southern States.
From the Cobb County Extension site: Luffa (Luffa aegyptica Mill syn. L. cylindrica), or Loofah or vegetable sponge, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Luffa is closely related to and has similar cultural requirements as the cucumber. It is an annual climbing vine, which produces a fruit containing a fibrous vascular system. When separated from the skin, flesh and seeds, the fiber network can be used as a bathroom sponge. Luffa can also be used as packing material, for making crafts, and as filters.
Used as a bath sponge it produces a mild glow on the skin. The blood circulation the sponge induces on the skin has been credited as a relief for rheumatic and arthritic sufferers. The versatility of the luffa goes beyond producing sponges. The young fruit, when small, (around 6 inches) are delicious used in soup or stew. They can also be cooked like summer squash. Older fruit have been reported to develop purgative chemicals.
Because luffa has a compact network of close fibers, its resiliency makes it useful for many products like filters, slipper soles, baskets. Small pieces of luffa sponge are good for scraping vegetables like carrots without having to remove the valuable nutrients by peeling them. You can also wash dishes, scrub your tub, etc. with luffa. When they become soiled throw them in the washer! Luffa is environmentally safe, biodegradable and a renewable resource.


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