Grow Your Own Luffa Sponge

The common thread of survivalists and individuals like myself who study and use primitive skills is that they like the idea of self sufficiency. Whether in simple everyday tasks or in an actual life or death survival situation, we bushcrafter types strive to be self-sufficient; relying on our skills and preparation to get us through any situation.

I personally really enjoy trying to be self-sufficient. I like the idea of providing for myself. I like the idea of hunting and growing some of my own food. I like the idea of burning wood for heat rather than using gas or electric. I like the idea of using a well for water rather than hooking up to public utilities. I like catching a fish from a fresh water stream and having a shore-side lunch instead of going to the nearest fast food joint. I really enjoy gathering wild edibles for a side dish or fresh salad. And, I like making things from natural grown or gathered elements.  From time to time I like to share what I consider are cool bushcraft projects.

Fall is the time of HARVEST. This project is definitely a unique and fun HARVEST time project.

Natural Luffa Sponge

Does the above picture look familiar? We’ve all seen these in the market at some time in our life or maybe you’ve even used one. They are called Luffa Sponges. It’s funny, I actually grew up thinking this was a dried out creature from the ocean. That couldn’t be farther from the truth!

The Luffa Sponge is actually the dried inside membrane of a gourd. Yes, that’s right – it looks like a big zucchini actually. The plant (called the ORN LUFFA) is a vining melon that produces 12-24″ edible gourds that can be harvested early (about 2″ long) as a tasty vegetable or left to mature and then harvested for the inside “Luffa Sponge”. Are you as amazed at this as I was when I first learned it?

Mature Orn Luffa

What’s more self sufficient than growing your own bath sponges or kitchen sink sponges? It’s easy.

Step 1: Get yourself some Orn Luffa seeds. Below are 2 links on-line to buy them. You only have to buy seeds ONCE you know. Keep some seeds from your crop each year to provide next years bounty.–dsh–Luffa-cylindrica/Detail

Step 2: Plant the seeds in spring or early summer. They require full sun and approx 90 days for a mature harvest.

Step 3: Harvest the sponges after the 1st hard frost when the vine is dead and brown.

Step 4: Peel off the outer skin, cut the ends off and squish (called milking) out all the seeds and pulp from the middle of the membrane.

Step 5: Hang to dry.

That’s it! And now you have a whole crop of Luffa Sponges to last all year. You can wash luffas in the washer or you can soak them in some bleach water for cleaning.

Hope you enjoy.  The ORN LUFFA is not my favorite gourd, however.  There is another gourd variety that holds a special place in the history of our ancestors and was used to perform very important tasks…  I’ll post about this in a future entry.  Until then…

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