Loofah is also called sponge cucumber, vegetable sponge, gourd sponge, fibre luffa, loufah sponge and loofa. It is a hardy, annual climber from the cucumber family. The fruits are elongated, about 8 cm wide and 10 - 40 cm long. This species is originally from Asia and is cultivated worldwide in the tropics. It is an elongated light green fruit that looks like a matte, ribbed cucumber. It has white flesh that is fibrous and can be used to scrub the skin if you let it dry.
The young, unripe, soft fruits can be eaten and preserved just like gherkins. When it ripens it becomes bitter, tough and with large seeds. You can also cut the ribs, cut the fruit into slices or pieces and cook briefly, stir-frying, steaming or warming up in a recipe. Can be stored in the fridge for approx. 2 - 3 days. Not hardy annual. Height: 200 - 300 cm.
Plantposition: sunny, very hot and sheltered (Greenhouse)
Harvestperiod: September - November
Soak the seeds a few hours before sowing in tepid water. This makes the large, hard seeds softer and easier to germinate. Sow indoors in trays filled with well-moistened sowing soil. Sow indoors from mid-February to early April. The temperature must be at least 20 ° C, warmer ensures better germination. It is important that the temperature is as constant as possible, because this ensures good germination. Put 1 seed sideways 1½ cm deep in moist soil and cover it. Keep the soil moist after sowing and during germination, but not too wet to prevent rotting. Cover the trays with a lid or cling film. Remove the cover or the foil as soon as the seedlings emerge.
As soon as there is no longer any chance of night frost, allow the young seedlings to get used to the outside temperature before you put them in the open ground. Harden them of from the end of April / beginning of May by putting the young plants outside during the day for 7 - 10 days. Give these plants a very sunny, warm and sheltered place in full sun or in an unheated greenhouse. Provide a solid support by means of a bamboo stick or a scaffold.
The sponge cucumbers are ready for harvesting from the end of September. Allow them to dry upside down in a warm, well-ventilated area. You can then use them to exfoliate the skin. Young, not fully grown fruits can be eaten.