Mrs Green grows her own cleaning sponge

Filed in Blog by on April 12, 2010 16 Comments
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The amazing looking luffa vine

The amazing looking luffa vine

It was the lovely Jane who bought my attention to Luffa seeds.

Last year we had the odd green and yellow scouring sponge to dispose of. As these are man made from a plethora of composite materials, there is nowhere for them after use except the bin. Boo!

I came across a company who sold recycled scouring pads, but alas these too ended up in the bin after use. Hiss.

So what’s a girl to do when there are far more interesting things to do than carefully watch scrambled eggs or custard for signs of catching on the base of the pan?

Grow her own compostable scrubbing pads I guess!

So that’s what I’m doing. I ordered some Luffa seeds and planted them last weekend.

According to the experts, once you prepare the fruit, they look a bit like a dried out cucumber. Funny that, seeing as they are a member of the cucurbit family (cucumbers and melons to me and you). Apparently, after drying, the fibrous internal structure of the Luffa magically transforms itself into a’ sponge’, 30cm (12 inches) long!

I love some of the alternative names for luffa such as dishcloth gourd and sponge gourd! Apparently they grow wild in parts of India.

Now here’s the weird part. I used to have a very strange habit that has Mr Green curling his toes whenever I talk about it.

As a young child, whenever I had a bath, I used to chew and suck the bath sponge LOL! Yes, that very same sponge that members of my family used to cleanse all sorts of unmentionable areas, I used to put into my mouth. Well, I’ve just discovered that Luffa can indeed be harvested as a vegetable and eaten.

Now I’ve grown up a bit, I shall only be harvesting my luffa for cleaning purposes. I guess that means I need to be on my best behaviour between now and then to make sure I don’t burn any pans.

According to one site, the dried skeletonised core of the luffa fruit can also be used as a comfortable beach shoe or slipper. You never know, there might be a cottage industry starting up at zero waste towers. Compostable shoes that you can eat in an emergency; whatever next?

If you’re intrigued and want to know more, there is an excellent website dedicated to growing Luffa sponges.

Let me know if you decide to grow your own and we can compare notes.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (16)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    Well, I never knew that. You live and learn every day. Good luck with the growing.

  2. Emma says:

    I may well join you. I never could resist a challenge!

  3. Amazing! What a novel idea! I think even I could do this. Thank you so much for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jen CleanBin says:

    GREAT post! I never knew that loofahs were a veggie. Learn something everyday. I am totally going to give this a shot!

  5. Magdalena says:

    Luffas or Loofahs are commonly grown in North America as bath sponges. I’ve wanted to grow them myself, but lived too far north. Now I’m intrigued again! I would think they’d make a great farmer’s market product.

  6. Jane says:

    Here’s for a successful growing season!

    BTW in the meantime if you do burn something try putting a little soap powder in the cold pan with water and bringing it to the boil for a while. It helps to lift the burnt stuff.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: Thanks Julie – it as all new to me as well!

    @Emma: Please do, Emma, it would be great to compare notes!

    @Sarah @ Mum In Bloom: You’re welcome Sarah; do join in the fun. You could write about it on your lovely site ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Jen CleanBin: Yay! It’s rather exciting isn’t it? I didn’t know they were edible either…

    @Magdalena: Thanks for the info, Magdalena; I never knew that. Let me know if you decide to grow them.

    @Jane: Thanks for the well wishes, the inspiration to grow them and the useful tip for burnt saucepans ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Karin says:

    I didn’t realise luffas could grow here in the UK. I’ve been using one to wash up for several months now and think they are great for most things. It’s a bit like using a shredded wheat, only it doesn’t disintegrate when soggy. For those who don’t want to grow their own Michaels Originals export them from somewhere exotic, which means they must have a carbon footprint, but as they are small and light it’s probably not all that big. They can fill a space on a plane already travelling this way. I got mine from Greenbrands initially http://www.greenbrands.co.uk/category-33/ML1.html but have since found them on sale in my local health food shop.

    Good luck with the luffa growing!

  9. Condo Blues says:

    I’d love to try growing loofa. Unfortunately I don’t have a sturdy fence to use as a trellis.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Karin: Thanks Karin, for the link as well., i loved the Shredded wheat analogy!

    @Condo Blues: What a shame! Could you rig something up a wall? That’s what I’ll do as we don’t have any fences at all; we have hedges instead.

  11. Jane says:

    Are you game for another try this year? My brother had gourd plants climbing up the trees in the garden this year. I should have got him some loofah seeds shouldn’t I. Maybe I will. In the city things just don’t grow in the same way (if at all).

    Uh oh I had another idea. I remember one of my first knitting attempts at school being to knit a dishcloth out of string . Now this is easy with soft string. What about with coconut string? Is it possible to find something like coconut string in this country?

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: I definitely AM game, Jane. I learned a lot last year (about what NOT to do LOL!). In fact you’ve reminded me, if I want to have a go I ought to start sowing soon as the growing season is so long. I’ll have a look out for coconut string, although I’m really not a knitter…

  13. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: When are you thinking of starting sowing? (Must get some seeds) The dishcloth wasn’t very big and was knitted in plain stitch. Great start to knitting. Coconut is of course coir. We had a really rough and hairy type of string – I can’t imagine it will be fun to knit but would probably make a good pan scrubber unless it goes very soft when wet.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Yes, Feb, indoors is about the right time as even germination can take a long time. Mind you, the temperature in our home isn’t stable, but at least this should give me a bit of a head start ๐Ÿ™‚

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