It’s February 16th, and here in central Maine we’re starting our luffa seeds. Luffas are actually a gourd that can be used as a natural sponge when they are left to mature and dry on the vine. They require a long growing season. In our northern climate it’s usually not long enough to get a harvest before the frost kills the plants, so we start them early and grow them in a green house.
We’ve had success growing them, and are happy to include them in our product line. We’ve also had a lot of questions from people on how to grow luffas, and they’re a little tricky to start from seed, so I thought I’d share how we prepare the seed for germination.
If there is interest, we could keep a blog post diary of our process so others can grow along with us or have as a reference for growing luffas in the future. How cool would that be?! In the mean time, here’s some guidance to get your started.
The tips for growing luffas from seed:
1) Use fresh seed! Older seed does not germinate as well
2) Scarify the seed. Rough up the exterior so water can more easily penetrate the seed for germination.
3) Heat mats (or any gentle heat source) will help to germinate your seed and grow your seedlings at a faster rate.
4) Keep the seeds damp until they sprout!
5) Water consistently, but don’t overwater! The soil should not stay saturated, but it shouldn’t dry out completely either. They have similar watering needs as squash and cucumbers. If you notice their leaves are wilting, it’s time to water.
6) Luffas do not like their roots disturbed! They are similar to cucumbers in this regard. Keep potting them up, so they don’t become root bound. Using paper pots is a great way to pot up because you can place the whole pot into a bigger size container.
7) Provide season extension for them. They will keep producing flowers and fruit until they are frost-killed. The longer you can grow them, the higher your yield.
8) They love sun and warmth! Transplant them to a sunny location. They will grow much faster in a warm environment such as a greenhouse or hoop house.
9) Trellis your luffas! They love to climb, and they are great climbers that need very little guidance. Although they can be grown on the ground, like cucumbers, BUT when luffas are trellised they are more likely to form straight fruit.
10) Fertilize them! They are heavy feeders that require a lot of nutrients to produce lots of big fruit on strong healthy, lush vines. We feed an organic liquid fish and kelp emulsion when they are transplanted, and 2-3 times per month thereafter.
Comment below if you would like to see more from us about how we grow our luffas throughout the growing season.