Growing your own loofah sponge

Growing your own loofah sponge

Body Brushing

 THIS SYMBOL REPRESENTS SKIN REGENERATION, EXFOLIATION AND BODY BRUSHING

 Whenever you see this symbol it is time to brush and exfoliate 

There is a new trend emerging –  growing your own loofah. It is such a great plant and totally compatible with the LWTM lifestyle philosophy.  You can eat this plant (as it is in fact a vegetable – a mixture between cucumber and courgette), but you can also grow your own body sponge and kitchen tool. When you buy it in your pharmacy or health food store you probably don’t realize that you can easily grow it yourself. This is how to do it.

 

Where does the Loofah plant come from?

The Loofah plant originates from South Asia and looks quite similar to a  large, wide cucumber. It does need a lot of warmth and sunshine to grow, so a sunny spot is a must. If you are a keen gardener you can propagate the seeds in a heated propagator. But for most amateur gardens you can buy a little plant in April and keep it initially indoors on a sunny windowsill. As they grow, you can transplant them into a larger pot.  You can keep your plant indoors, ideally in front of a sunny window or eventually you can transplant it into your garden. 
But first, the plant needs well established. The earliest you can plant it outdoors in late May (I am talking here Northern European climate – if you live in a sunny spot, it could be earlier). It is important that there are no more frosty night left once you transplant it outside, as otherwise, this plant will wilt.
In the wild, a loofah plant can grow up to 10m, but even if you grow it in a very big pot, it will never reach this height, as the root growth is restricted.

Can you eat them?

Yes, they are just like a climbing courgette or pumpkin with yellow flowers. They also need stalking. You can also eat the yellow flowers (similar to courgettes). But you can only eat the plant when it is still young, small and tender  (early summer).  Once the loofah grows bigger it becomes quite rough inside and is no longer used for food. In this instance, we want the loofah to stay on the plant as we want a big, rough-fiber skeleton to develop. In fact, if you have lots of fruits developing, you can eat a few and keep the 3 strongest on the plant until early autumn. The foliage will then turn brown and dry up. This is because the plant ages and dehydrates. Once it has grown to a decent size and it looks fairly dry and solid, pick it off the plant.

 

Make your own loofah exfoliating sponge

Many loofahs you get to buy commercially have been bleached, so don’t be surprised if yours has a deeper tan colour than expected. Dry it in your airing cupboard or dehydrator until the skin is ready to peel off. You can submerge the dry loofah in a bucket of water and peel the rough skin off. Then you need to shake off the seeds from inside the plant. Keep them in a jar, ready to plant up in the next year (ideally end of January to end of March). You can give some seeds with these instructions to your friends, so they can grow their own loofahs.

In short, the loofah is a  really useful plant. When small you can eat it, once it is dry and rough, you can use the whole dried fruit as a  body sponge to get off any dead skin cells. Another use is in the kitchen. Cut the loofah into rings and you these to scrub your pans and dirty dishes, especially when food has dried on and is difficult to clean. 

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