September 26, 2016

Harvest Monday, 9/26/16

I've had a surprise harvest. Having left the loofa vines in the ground since they were extra lush and having taken over the whole row of trellises and starting their meander over the fence, they have finally decided to blossom and produce.
The angled luffas on the left are longer and thicker so my guess are these are the Extra Long and the four on the right are the Chinese Okra variety. Loofahs belong to the same family as cucumbers, squashes, and watermelon. And like cucumbers if they don't get enough water they can get a slightly bitter flavor.

They're easy to prepare, I just peel off the skin and then saute in olive oil with a little garlic and salt and pepper, and maybe a dash of nuoc mam.

I'm also growing a smooth variety called Summer Cross but the fruit it's forming are irregular and dying on the vine, perhaps the plants are more susceptible to squash and harlequin bugs.
You can see the dead bean vines on this trellis that the loofahs have taken over.
There are loofas everywhere, the little yellow blobs on the ground are spent loofah flowers.
They are very good at climbing fences and seem fairly drought resistant, although without regular watering you risk a bitter fruit now and then.
The vines are massive so it's no surprise the fruit grow so quickly.

Please join us at Harvest Monday where new and experienced gardeners share their delightful vegetables.

20 comments:

Eight Gate Farm NH said...

Interesting photo documentary on loofa (loopha? loofah?). They might be just the thing to grow on an unused area next to a fence.

David Velten said...

Thanks for the interesting post on luffas. It sure took a long time for them to produce in your warmer climate. Not sure they would produce here before frost shuts them down.

gardenvariety-hoosier said...

Fascinating. The leaves definitely say cucurbit. I don't believe I've ever had the opportunity to try them.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing loofah crop you have this year! Love the idea of nuoc mam with them... I might try this with our immature pattypans. Thank you for the tip
Kathy

Margaret said...

I actually did have loofah on my list of things to grow, but not for eating. I didn't even realize that you could eat them until I read that on your blog. Now I'm wondering if you plan on drying any for use as a loofah sponge?

Julie said...

I also had no clue that you can eat loofahs. They look like an interesting plant to grow.

michelle hamer said...

Your patience certainly was amply rewarded! They are such an interesting looking vegetable.

Phuong said...

Hi Eight Gate,
They do end up taking quite a bit of space, but they are fun to grow even though it sometimes feels like forever before they start blossoming. But the fruits do grow quickly once they set. I've read where it suggests they're daylight sensitive, so they might actually flower better in your neck of the woods.

Phuong said...

Hi David,
They definitely seem to require a long growing season. It's been much cooler at night and they're blossoming like crazy which makes me wonder if temperatures affect them. Either way, they'r nice to have when everything else in the garden is waning.

Phuong said...

Hi Mike,
I had a chance to try them when my dad brought some by on a visit from northern Virginia and thought they were delicious. This year is the best they've ever done for me. I should probably start watering them though, a single bitter fruit can be off-putting.

Phuong said...

Hi Kathy,
I do think nuoc mam goes very well with summer squash stir-fries. My patty pans did nothing this year because of the vine borers. But yours look like they have done spectacularly. And your winter squashes are especially beautiful.

Phuong said...

Hi Margaret,
We do have a couple more months before the frost hits, so there should be plenty of time to get a bunch to ripen. This is our first bumper harvest of luffas, so it would actually be worthwhile to try to get some sponges out of them.

Phuong said...

Hi Julie,
They're definitely rampaging sort of plants that love to climb, but are very care free. They don't seem susceptible to mildews the way cucumbers are.

Phuong said...

Hi Michelle,
I'm very glad I waited, the plants just looked too good to cut down. At those sizes in the picture, they were actually seedless or had very soft immature seeds.

Dave @ OurHappyAcres said...

I've never tried the edible luffa but did grow the sponge type and it was very viny too. Thanks for sharing how you prepare them!

Sue Garrett said...

I've ever eaten loofahs. It only ones that I have come across the ones that you use at bath time.

k said...

Thanks for the introduction to loofahs. I have never seen one growing, and I had no idea you could eat them. Is this the same kind that are used for loofah sponges?

Phuong said...

Hi Dave,
Was it the smooth luffa that you grew? I think the smooth ones are long and fat and the angled ones are long and narrower.

Phuong said...

Hi K,
Both of them get fibrous when mature so can be used as sponges but the angled ones are used more often for eating. Supposedly because the angled ones are less likely to get bitter, but I don't know if that's really true.

The size of the sponge very much depends on variety, I don't think the ones we're growing get as big as those back scrubbers on a stick.

Phuong said...

Hi Sue,
They can be a challenge to grow, I think our incredibly wet August helped out with their production.