What’s the strangest thing you can grow in Berkeley or Oakland? SPONGES!
Ask anyone where they think loofah / luffa sponges come from.
I guarantee 80% of the time you will hear “the ocean” as an answer. Maybe even from yourself.
My friend gave me loofah seeds from sponges she grew on the East Coast.
For 2 years now, I have planted loofah sponges in my garden in Rockridge. I would love to give seeds away to my neighbors! Message me here or on Instagram to see if I still have seeds.
If you think you need to own a house with a garden to be able to grow stuff this video will tell you that you do not!
How to Grow Luffa Sponges in your Back Yard or Container
The top tips for a successful loofah sponge crop are:
- Plant in soil or in containers like Earth Boxes. I have had a great crop by filling a couple of Earth Boxes with soil and letting the seeds do their thing. The nice thing about Earth Boxes is they really minimize the amount of water you need to use as well as how often you need to water – because they are made to be totally efficient.
- Before planting the seeds: It’s best to scrape the seeds a little with something sharp to expose the seed below the protective black layer.
- Space: You will need space for the luffa plants to vine, maybe up to 10 feet. I let mine vine and wrap around other vines as well as small bushes.
- Growing conditions: Luffa (Egyptian squash) plants need a lot of water and sun.
- Timeframe: When do the seeds need to be planted? I am not exactly sure, but here in Oakland where we have Mediterranean weather, I was able to poke some seeds into a container in August and 3 months later have several loofah sponges ready to harvest. (A squirrel or something took bites out of a couple but that doesn’t usually happen!)
- Harvesting: Let the mature loofah squash turn yellow on the vine or even brown before harvesting. Sometimes I clip them to a clothes line and let them dry in the sun, if I know rain isn’t coming. Or as you can see in one of the images, hanging them inside in a warm place will also give them time to try.
- When to reveal your homegrown luffa sponges: Once the shell is thoroughly hard and cracking, it’s time! You can either run them under water (and have a bowl to capture seeds) or crack them open dry. You will hear and see the seeds inside the sponge.
Please share the DIY loofah love!