Loofah Saga - The Final Instalment

 Our attempts to grow loofahs (luffas) this year has been a bit of a rollercoaster; see here and here for Parts 1 and 2.

The Good: germination was excellent and the first seedling was planted out in the polytunnel towards the end of April (warm and sunny).

The Bad: the first seedling was very slow to establish itself, so much so that I thought it would not be viable.

The Good: the second seedling, planted mid-May in the polytunnel, took off like a house on fire and quickly produced some flowers!!

The Bad: all the flowers on the second plant were male! I was expecting both male and female!!

The Good: the first plant finally put on a growth spurt and developed female flowers!!

The Bad: however, it was now late July and I was concerned the growing season might not be long enough!!

The Good: By mid-September, there were recognisable if somewhat diminutive loofahs...

Loofah, luffa, polytunnel, England, fruits

The Bad: I'd run out of exclamation marks!!!!

The Good: eight fruits had developed (all on the first plant) and were swelling up fast as you can see from this photo taken from the doorway of the polytunnel at the start of October.

Loofah, luffa, growing, harvest, polytunnel, quadgrow

 and close up.

The Bad: it was the end of October and the nights were getting much cooler so it was time to bring the harvest in. Ideally, loofahs ripen and turn brown on the vine but all the fruits were harvested green. We tried peeling a few fruits but there was nothing resembling a loofah skeleton and the remains were despatched to the hot compost bin. A couple of fruits also started to rot and also ended up as compost fodder.

The Good: without knowing how large the loofahs were meant to grow, four reasonably sized fruits were placed on a tray and left in the airing room at about 27 ℃.

The Bad: two fruits went off...

The Good: two fruits didn't!!

The Bad: the waiting! The tension...

The Good: on December 19th, a brown-coloured loofah was stripped of its crispy skin to reveal a passable loofah skeleton. Hurrah!!

The Bad: the other loofah was still a bit greenish and not quite ready. I thought the fish tray was a nice addition as most people, it seems, think loofahs come from the sea.

The End: the final loofah was stripped around mid-January. Disappointingly, it had a less well-formed skeleton than its predecessor. We did recover some seeds from the two viable fruits so we will see if they grow in 2021.

loofah, luffa



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