It all started last winter when I got a seed catalog in the mail. While pouring over the pages, planning my perfect summer garden, I stumbled upon luffa seeds. Luffa seeds? Until that very moment in time, I always thought luffa sponges came from the ocean. I never knew you could actually GROW your own SPONGES.
How cool is that?
And in that moment in time, a dream was born. Not only would I grow my own bath sponges, I’d grow tons of bath sponges and I’d give them to everyone I knew for Christmas! I’d make my own body scrub, pair it with a home-grown sponge, and feel like the smartest City Farmer in the universe.
I ordered my seeds. Just to be safe, having never grown luffa before, I decided to try two varieties. One can never have too many sponges, when you have a large Christmas list like I have.
Once the seeds arrived, I found out that they have a hugely long growing season. That’s okay, though. I bought a grow light and started my baby seeds inside in plenty of time to transplant outdoors, allow them to grow 10 feet tall, and provide me with so many sponges I wouldn’t know what to do with them all…I started to have visions of opening a luffa sponge shop on the corner in front of the house…the modern day twist to the lemonade stand…ahhh, it would be grand!
One thing, in all this dreaming, that I didn’t account for was that the lovely Pacific NW wasn’t going to give us a real summer this year. All my dreaming, planning and hoping was about to get drowned out by the never-ending spring-into-summer rain and cold weather we received instead!
Of the dozen or so luffa plants I started, 2 survived the spring and grew through the summer. I didn’t let the numbers get me down. I faithfully tended to my Christmas-gifts-in-the-making, still hoping for some spectacular results…and those 2 little plants grew and grew…taller than me…up the side of my deck…all over the place.
But they didn’t blossom.
As I turned the calendar over to October, I decided it was about time to give up. No luffa for me this year. But then lo and behold, a miracle happened. Blooms. I noticed blooms! I had blooming luffa. No sponges, but blooms. Where once I was anticipating hauling wheelbarrows full of luffa into the garage to dry, now I was jumping for joy just to see a blossom!
It’s amazing how a rainy, wet summer can change a perspective!
My whole garden has been a big disappointment this year. Thankfully, there are lots of farmers markets around to help make up for my losses. This last time I went, guess what I found? LUFFA! Foot long luffa! The lady selling it said it was too young to use as a sponge, but if you peel it and cut it up, it tastes wonderful in soup.
Sponge soup? Well, I’m adventurous and willing to try just about anything…and I did. What does sponge soup taste like, you may ask? The luffa definitely tasted related to squash, and sort of like cucumber as well. When I chopped it up into the vegetable beef soup, I had a hard time telling it apart from the potatoes, until I ate it. It had kind of mushy texture and a squashy taste.
I thought about tying the farmer’s market luffa to my luffa plant to take a picture. Who would know? Well, besides all those people on my Christmas list that aren’t getting luffa and homemade body scrub for their gifts this year.
I went out and took another look at my luffa plant today. I’ve been nurturing it along since February and I’ve grown quite fond of it, even though it let me down in the production department. Blooms are bursting open all over it now. And I looked closer…
Could it be?? Yes! Yes, it is! I have baby luffa. Okay, they’re so tiny I’d have to tie them to a popsicle stick and make toothbrushes for Christmas…but still…they’re growing! I did it.
With tiny little luffa sprouting up all over my luffa plant…in OCTOBER…I’m renewed and encouraged. I will try again next year! Maybe next time the Pacific NW weather will cooperate, and everyone I know will get luffa sponges for Christmas!