Growing Loofahs and Sunburnt Raspberries

Growing Loofah (Luffa) Plants 

In everyday parlance, loofahs are the dried fruits of a tropical/subtropical luffa vine, a member of the cucumber family. When harvested young, it is a popular vegetable especially in India, China and Vietnam. If the fruit is allowed to fully ripen on the vine, it becomes very fibrous and takes on a new life as the well-known scrubbing sponge in bathrooms and kitchens.

On a visit to the 2019 Malvern Autumn Show, we bought a packet of seeds to see if we could grow them in our polytunnel using the Quadgrow system. Two seeds were germinated in an unheated greenhouse using Dalefoot seed compost then transplanted out into the polytunnel in late April/mid-May in Quadgrow pots filled with Fertile Fibre coir (reconstituted from a 5kg block). Two out of three seeds germinated. The seedling transplanted in late April was very slow to develop and is now way behind the seedling planted out in mid-May. The photo below, taken on 1st July 2020, shows the luffa vine's vigorous growth along the polytunnel frame. A small yellow flower can be seen on the luffa; the first one to open. In the left foreground is a cucumber plant with its own yellow flowers.

Loofah (luffa) plant in polytunnel grown with Quadgrow system

Our four cucumber plants have already produced over 60 edible cucumbers by the time the first luffa flower opened! Close-ups of the luffa flower below.

We are hopeful the vigorous growing luffa will produce some fruits; less hopeful the rather weedier-looking specimen has enough time left to be productive though it is still growing. The plan is to use the dried loofah sponges as pan scrubs to replace for the ones we bought last year. 

Sunburnt Raspberries

Can raspberries get sunburn. The answer is yes!

The high UV levels and sunshine during April and May caused some fruit to get sunburnt (sunscald). It is known as White Drupelet Syndrome or Disorder. It affects those drupelets most exposed to the sun, usually on the top of the fruit or on the sunny side. Although unsightly, the fruits are still edible. 

1 comment:

  1. The loofahs/luffas have been disappointing. The stronger plant turned out to have only male flowers. The slower-growing plant produced female flowers and even some small cucumber-like fruits. However, these do not seem to have developed and the chances of producing any usable loofahs looks diminishingly small.


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