Video: How To Grow And Use A Loofah (loofah)
Luffa varieties Akutangula
I would like to share my impressions and experience of growing one of the interesting exotic plants in our garden - luffa (washcloths). A rare gardener has heard of such a plant, and, meanwhile, luffa is a miracle vegetable - it is a side dish, and a bath accessory, and a medicine, and a cosmetic product!
The fruit of this multifunctional plant is widely used in Chinese cuisine. Young 8-10-day-old ovaries, while they are still fragile and fragrant, are fried like zucchini and used for making soups. Ripe fruit makes the best natural skin care scrubber. This plant is also widely used in oriental medicine in the treatment of rheumatic pains.
Luffa (lat.Luffa) is a herbaceous vine, belonging to the Pumpkin family, an annual plant. For a long time it was attributed to the same genus as the cucumber, and only in the 18th century was it singled out as an independent genus. This plant is widespread in India and in the countries closest to it - Iran, Afghanistan, Japan, as well as in Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Crimea.
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Of the eight known types of Luffa, sharp-ribbed and cylindrical Luffa is grown for vegetable products. The stem of this plant is climbing, up to 5 meters long, highly branched. Leaves 5-7-lobed, long-petiolate, dark green. The flowers are large, yellow. Male and female flowers develop in the axils of the same leaf, but the former are collected in racemose inflorescences, and the latter in solitary ones. Flowers bloom in the morning and are pollinated mainly by bees.
Her fruit is hanging - from 20 centimeters to 1 meter long, depending on the variety, up to 15 centimeters thick, cylindrical or club-shaped. It is pale green in color with small symmetrical longitudinal stripes. The seeds are similar to watermelon, flat, black and white in color.
This plant is thermophilic, grows well in fertile soils and a sunny place. Seeds sprout well without prior preparation.
Luffa varieties Moidodyr
Luffa is sown both by seedlings and by sowing seeds into the ground. This happens in our country at the end of April, when the soil warms up to + 12 … + 13 ° С. I grow one plant on one square meter of the garden. Care consists in loosening the soil, weeding, regular abundant watering. After the appearance of the fifth leaf, I pinch the main stem. I grow luffa on a trellis up to three meters high so that the fruits do not touch the ground and do not take an ugly shape, and also so that they are less affected by fungal diseases. I accelerate fruiting by leaving 1-2 stems on the plant with early formation of female flowers.
I harvest the fruits as they ripen - I cut them off with a pruner. For eating, it is important not to overexpose the fruits on plants, so that the fibers do not have time to coarse. If you harvest regularly, then more than a dozen fruits are formed on each plant. Young fruits have a pleasant aroma, contain calcium and phosphorus. From very young ovaries, you can prepare salads, as well as seasonings for meat dishes.
The nutritional value of Luffa is low, but the presence of mineral salts contributes to better assimilation of meat food. Luffa fruits at biological maturity are already inedible. They are densely penetrated with conducting beams. Each bundle is surrounded by rings of fibers that make up the fibrous skeleton of the pulp and form a network - a kind of reinforcement of the fruit, which is used as a washcloth. In appearance, the washcloth seems to be knitted - it is elastic, durable - it does not stretch in hot water, and does not shrink in cold water.
To get larger fruits for using them later as a washcloth, it is necessary to leave them on the plant 2-3 pieces, the rest of the ovaries must be removed, using them young for food, and the plants must be fertilized well. I take off mature "washcloths" in October and dry them in the room, in a suspended state. Then I cut off the ends of the fruit, shake out the seeds and dip the washcloth in boiling water for 20 minutes. After the fruit has cooled, the skin is easily peeled off. The dried washcloth is ready for use as intended.
Luffa Grades Cylindrical
During the cutting of young fruits, the stem of the loofah releases a lot of liquid. This juice is collected in China and used as a cosmetic for facial skin. There is no better and more convenient washcloth! Loofah scouring pads can be used by children with diathesis. Such a sponge does not cause allergies and does not sour, like foam sponges, and does not injure the skin, unlike a sponge made of mesh. According to experts, a loofah washcloth is a good massager: it improves blood circulation, gives the skin elasticity and a fresh look.
I'll tell you a little about the varieties that I planted this season. I like the variety of Cylindrical loofah very much. Its young fruits are good for frying, they are cylindrical, even, up to 60 cm long, sweet in taste.
Akutangula variety - has fruits up to 1-1.2 m long. They are thin, only 3-5 cm in diameter, dark green, ribbed.
The Moidodyr variety pleases with smooth, with small ribs, fruits up to 70-100 cm long. This variety is late-ripening, but with a friendly harvest formation. The variety of Luffa Ribbed turned out to be original - it is more often used for food, since it is more early ripening, young fruits are fragile, juicy, fragrant, ribbed, club-shaped or pear-shaped, 15-40 cm long, 8 cm in diameter.
Read part 2. Luffa stuffed with meat →
Valery Brizhan, experienced gardener