Did you know that loofahs (yes, the things you use in the shower) are grown in the garden, not in the ocean?
Yeah, that was news to me too!
I first came across a loofah (sometimes spelled luffa) at a farmers market a few years ago and I was amazed to learn that they grow in the garden, exactly like a cucumber or squash! At the time, I didn’t have a garden – I actually considered myself somewhat of a brown thumb and felt like I killed everything I tried to grow, which, if you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that isn’t true now. Proof that you should never give up on anything!
But back to loofahs! As it turns out loofahs are incredibly easy to grow. You pretty much pop a seed in the ground near a support of some sort and let it go. It is not overly susceptible to any pests or problems and it puts out beautiful flowers! The downside to the loofah plant is that its really aggressive and it needs a strong support. Planting this near a strong fence is your best idea. I actually walked a little on the wild side and let it scale the side of my house, which was really cool looking! It felt a little bit like an old English cottage. As long as you keep it away from any cables and the roof, this can be a fun option!
The other downside to loofah is that it needs at least 100 frost free days. So it may not be suitable for all climates. However if you have a shorter season, you can try to start it indoors early and let it get pretty big before moving it outside. They transplant really well! I am going to try growing one in a pot this year and see if I can get it to produce one or two loofahs as an option for those with small spaces. I will keep you updated!
And be sure to check out my video on how to clean and use your loofah sponge once it has grown and harvested!
I will be making a thorough how-to post on growing these amazing plants soon! But in the meantime, check out this page for more information.
So you might be asking, why go through this effort just for a shower sponge? Well, because a loofah can be used for more than that! My favorite way to use loofah is as a dish scrubber. Its an excellent alternative to those little green scrubbers or a washcloth or even a scrubbing brush. And best of all, they are absolutely ZERO WASTE and toxin free. When the sponge is worn out from doing all those dishes, you simply toss it in your compost. If you don’t have a compost, you may consider starting one or seeing if a local whole foods takes compost materials. If all else fails, you CAN throw it in the trash. It won’t break down quickly in a landfill but it will break down faster than the plastic scrubbers!
You can also use loofahs to deep clean your whole house with! Bathtubs, showers, sinks, grout, baseboards, washing machines and more can be cleaned with the loofah sponge and your favorite natural scrubbing cleaner (this one is mine!). Same concept here, if you used a natural cleaner then simply toss your loofah in the compost! And of course, don’t forget to try it as a body scrubber, it makes an amazing exfoliant!
What have you used loofah for? Did you know you could grow them in your backyard? I would love to hear your thoughts!