While young Luffas can be eaten, most people grow them for the fibrous “sponge” which is harvested from the fully ripe pods.
In Far North Queensland, Luffas are grown in the Summer from September to December. Seed in September and plant out in October.
Luffas are grown from seed and can be planted either into seedling trays and then planted out later or directly into their final location.
Luffas are a climbing vine and need a trellis or something else to climb. Like pumpkins, you can pinch off the tips to stop vines growing too long.
They need a little TLC when small as they are easily out-competed, however once they get going they are fairly self-sufficient.
You can usually begin harvesting after about 3 months and small Luffas (no bigger than a supermarket size Zucchini) can be cooked and eaten just like a Zucchini. Larger ones will be too tough to eat.
If growing for the sponges, pick the pods when they are brown and dry. Luffas have lots of seeds, however these are fairly easy to remove – some people recommend crunching the pod and then shaking all the seeds loose before peeling the sponge.
The sponge you get won’t be white like the shop-bought variety – this is because the ones from your garden haven’t been bleached to remove their natural colour.
Luffa sponges can be used in the bathroom and kitchen and can be composted when you are done with them.