Monday, 22 April 2013

Halleloofah (How to loofah)

As the warm weather fades and days become progressively shorter and cooler, some things in the garden lose their summer glory.  Others, such as the lowly lacklustre loofah, prepare to shed their skin and reveal their true purpose and inner beauty.  The first of these transformations took place at Colliwat Urban Farm today.  Grown from seed spilled by a previous generation, this vine grew in precisely the right place: in the new corn/cucurbit bed next to the fence.  

The cooling weather is slowly turning the skins on a few of the fruit brown so I thought I'd quickly show those of you who haven't done it how I process them for their next life in the kitchen or bathroom.

1. Take one browned loofah from the vine
2. Pull the round piece off the bottom
3. Shake the loofah to get the seeds out.  Dry them and save for next time you need to plant loofah.

4. Split the skin down the side and pull out the loofah.  It should be loose from the skin
5. Rinse with the hose or tap (it will be a little slimy)
6. Sit out in the sun for some natural bleaching
7. Think of plenty of uses for your new sponge - use in the shower, cut up for scourers...
8. Compost when you're done


  1. Thanks for this info, do you know I am so naive, I hadn't ever thought of where a loofah comes from (except the shop LOL). I am going to find some seeds and plant some. They look a bit like a pumkin. How many grow on a vine, how long do they take to mature, and I have to wait until they are brown to reap their rewards? :) Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa, Don't worry, you're not the only one! Most people think they come from the see and are amazed when they see them growing on my fence. I'm not entirely sure how long they take to mature but I'd say around the stock-standard 3 month mark over summer then die off like pumpkin heading into winter. I wait for them to go brown on the vine because it's easier to get the skins off then. They separate their skin from the spongy inner piece themselves that way. If they're picked green then you have to sit there and pick away at the skin to get it off and there may be some residual flesh in the spongy bit too. They produce copious amounts of seeds and I have a bad habit of just bashing them out into the garden and then when it rains I have dozens of little loofahs popping up everywhere.

      The vine can get quite long and large - and heavy with the fruit so grow it on a sturdy structure like a fence. I once had one of those cheap and flimsy garden arches collapse under the weight. The number of fruit depends on the health, pollinators etc of the vine but maybe expect 5-10 per vine. You're likely to get varying sizes too. For example I've hidden it in the photos but this one is mini at about 10cm long but usually they're up to a foot long. If they're too big I just cut them in sections for the dishes but if you need to reach down your back in the shower then leave them whole. :) All the best! I'm happy to post you some seeds if you need. Vanessa

  2. Thanks Vanessa! That is great information...they would grow in a colder climate (Tassie?), when should I plant them? Oh, yes please, it would be great if you could post me some seeds (I'll bet they don't sell them at Bunnings!!) :) Lisa

  3. Hi Lisa, you could give them a go in Tassie but make sure you plant them in spring after frost as I don't think they'd tolerate that and to give them the longest growing season possible. I'll have to call DPI/Quarantine to see if I'm allowed to send them to Tassie - I'd hate to introduce and. Will get back to you once I've had a chance to call them.

  4. Replies
    1. No worries. I called quarantine and they said they'd send me an email with what I can send. Still waiting on the email...I'll try calling again later in the week if I can.

    2. I haven't forgotten! Just sent quarantine and e-mail as I'm struggling to get home during business hours to make a phone call. Will let you know when I hear back.

    3. Hi Lisa, Sorry to say that I heard back from quarantine today and only registered seed suppliers are allowed to send seeds. We do have fruit fly here and they are trying to stop that coming into Tas so I get their point.

      I did a quick search and here's a couple of suppliers that are either in Tas or can send there:


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