The Turn of the Luffa: From Gourd to Sponge


A small fraction of the luffa, neatly gathered in a bucket. Photo by Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fall has come to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS garden, and with that, the Ridged Luffa Gourds, whose seeds were donated by the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, have finally reached maturity. Eager to turn these dried, ridged gourds into the biodegradable, earth-friendly sponges we all adore, we set to harvesting them with the conviction that this endeavor would only take a few minutes.

We thought wrong.

Photo by Amanda Kim Stairrett

It took us 30 minutes to harvest this unassumingly prolific gourd: As we cleared away the remaining luffa vines to make room for our fall garden, we kept finding more luffa squirreled away under dense leaves, dangling from the spidery vines. Our friendly rabbit visitor had made no impact on the luffa gourds, despite its love for the plant’s leaves!

Photo by Amanda Kim Stairrett

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