Monday, September 5, 2011

Looking Forward to Beans and Loofah

Happy Labor Day! I wish every week had a 3-day weekend. I find myself more productive at work and home when the schedule works out this way. I'm a wino, and one of the highlights of my weekend was a visit to the Narmada Winery, which I highly recommend to anyone in the Virginia area.

As I look forward to a possible tomato bumper crop and more pepper harvests, I also have two new crops that are maturing in September: green beans and loofah (as in an exfoliating loofah sponge!).

We planted bush beans in a container, and the five seedlings have just matured into producing plants. We harvested about a pint and a half late last week. We started these seeds in late June, but I wish we had started them earlier or planted more. Note to self: plant more beans next year. We love beans, too, I don't know why we didn't this year.


Loofah plants are something we tried growing on a whim last year, and the plants did so well that we had to grow them again this year. Loofahs are in the cucurbit family. The vines and flowers resemble cucumbers, and the fruit looks like a giant zucchini. I don't have any pictures of the actual fruit from last year, but here's a picture with more info. We have loofah planted in our small ground plant, and the vines grow wild. Last year they reached up to the deck, and it looks like they're on their way to reaching that far this year too.

Loofahs grow all summer, but really take off when the summer heat breaks. Last week the weather was absolutely gorgeous here (the one good thing about tropical storms is that they often leave nice weather in their wake). With temperatures in the 80s during the day and 60s overnight, the conditions were ideal for the plants to take off. The bumbles love the flowers, and the plants were covered in bees all weekend long. Yay! Keep pollinating!

We have two fruit already! You can see that they resemble zucchini. Although you can eat the fruit, we're going to let them grow and dry out. Then we'll peel them and process them to get the sponge that you see so often in the store.
Here's hoping for a good bean and loofah harvest!


9 comments:

  1. I never realised that loofahs came from plants - I thought they were some sort of sea creature! You live and learn

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  2. @Elaine--me too! I never knew you could grow these in the ground, but when we saw a packet of loofah seeds at the store, we had to try.

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  3. That's too cool! If I ever find seeds for loofah I'll have to try growing it. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. @Adele--try it! They're easy to grow. And thanks for the book rec's!

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  5. What's the process of turning a gourd into a sponge?

    I can't use loofahs, ever since an earwig invasion. Euwwwwww!

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  6. That's awesome! I'd love to see how you turn them into sponges, as well!

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  7. me too - convinced a loofah was a sea creature, perhaps because of bath water association. Instead I see it is a wonderful vine with soft buttery flowers
    p.s. beans look good too

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  8. You are educating the world about loofah! What do you do with them all - share as gifts, sell them, or do you use them all yourself and have the softest skin any gardener could hope for?

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  9. Thanks for the comments everyone!
    @Indie-- I'll take pictures of the harvesting process this year and post pics. It'll be a few more weeks before they're ready, though.

    @Deb--I've given away a few of these, but I do use them. Still trying to work on perfecting the soft skin. :)

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